The Enterprise Support Programme is a programme backed by Islington Council to help Black, Asian and Minority ethnic-owned businesses to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recognising the unique and significant challenges faced by Black, Asian and Minority ethnic businesses leaders, Action for Race Equality has been working closely with a range of local businesses since February 2022, providing them with one-to-one consultancy support, themed masterclasses, and unique exercises called Action Learning Sets.
Through a mix of personalised and collaborative learning activities, many of the participants on the Enterprise Support Programme have found innovative ways to navigate their post-pandemic recovery and to move forwards with their ventures.
Read the journey that one Enterprise Programme’s participant took with us as she completed all three strands of the programme.
Naomi, Shea Love London
Naomi is a nurse and midwife, as well as the director and owner of Shea Love London, a cosmetics company. Beginning as a hobby when she was pregnant 8 years ago, Naomi created a special blend of shea butter and coconut oil in a whipped formula to prevent stretch marks. After popular demand for it from family and friends, Shea Love London was born in 2019, and Naomi started offering the product more widely.
Naomi was one of the first participants to join the Enterprise Support Programme in February 2022.
She first heard about the Enterprise Support Programme when she completed Action for Race Equality’s scoping survey which investigated the extent to which businesses were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and where they wanted the most support.
One of her main motivations for applying was that she was juggling multiple roles (alongside her day job) including sourcing ingredients, producing the product, as well as labelling, packaging, and the delivery of the product including to shops stocking it.
Through the Programme, Naomi hoped to gain more strategic skills in business, including becoming more business-minded, and learning how to organise and optimise her time better to increase efficiency.
After being matched with an ARE business consultant, she started her bespoke consultancy sessions. These helped her to understand her financial projections for the future and ways to plan for increasing her income over time. The consultant encouraged Noami to expand into more shops, and suggested ways of making higher yields at each production cycle to secure greater sources of revenue.
Alongside this one-to-one support, Naomi also took part in an online Full Cost Recovery Masterclass, open to all Black, Asian and Minority ethnic led businesses in Islington. The class helped her see the value of creating a budget for applying for grants. By the end of the class, she saw the importance of planning to ensure all budget is accounted for and money is attributed to the correct business category.
Crucially, one of the biggest impacts for Naomi came from her consultant’s suggestion to tweak her product formula to make it more stable.
In the past, she had ordered from a hotel in Nigeria but had doubts about its reliability and durability. After speaking about this issue with the consultant, she made changes to her product and tested it whilst on holiday. Now, she is more confident with its stability. This confidence has given her the drive to pursue further business opportunities.
[The one-to-one consultancy has] been really beneficial… I am thankful that I had this opportunity put to me because [without it] I’d still be doing things the way I thought it should be done, but now I’m getting a bit more insight on how to actually do things properly.”
Finally, working with other Enterprise Programme Businesses on the Action Learning Sets, Naomi was able to explore new ideas with other Black, Asian and Minority-ethnic business owners, and get to present a particular challenge for her: marketing her product and services to increase customer levels.
In these exercises, Naomi was probed about the issue she was facing with detailed questions. The others in the group made her think about solutions that could be applied to her business, and learn from other members of the group. Naomi felt this exercise helped to improve her speaking skills and confidence in voicing her opinions in a comfortable and welcoming setting.
“I would definitely recommend the Action Learning Sets…[they’re] something that everyone could benefit from. I’m glad this opportunity was given to me to expand my knowledge in business.”
By the end of the programme, Naomi had a clearer understanding of the actions and considerations needed to enable her beauty business to grow. We thank Naomi for her engagement with the programme, and wish her all the best for the future.
The Enterprise Programme is currently scheduled to be running until June 2022. There are still opportunities to get involved.
Contact Tara Shah for details.