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.
Action for Race Equality has been working closely with a range of local businesses across February – November 2022, providing them with one-to-one consultancy support, themed masterclasses, and unique exercises called Action Learning Sets.
Through these, participants have found innovative ways to navigate their post-pandemic recovery and to move forwards with their ventures. Continue reading the case study to discover the journey that one business leader took with us as he completed all three strands of the programme!
Harman Sura, HMGS Technology Solutions
Harman Sura is the CEO for HMGS Technology Solutions, an IT services provider, which offers software application development, website development and hosting, infrastructure support, and digital marketing for start-ups and small-and-medium sized businesses.
Harman has been in the IT industry for 25 years, and has a wealth of knowledge and experience, but, like many business leaders during the pandemic, he realised he had to go the extra mile to stay afloat.
Joining the Enterprise Support Programme, Harman was looking to improve his understanding of the marketplace to access more clients, as well as to review how he was conducting business. He wanted to see if he could better attract potential customers whose proposals eventually converted into successful contracts.
Harman’s first step on the Programme was to take part in one-to-one consultancy sessions with Action for Race Equality’s specialist consultants, who gave Harman bespoke advice to meet his business needs.
Harman described the consultancy as “an eye-opener” to how his company approached their business, especially in the methodology they were using to attract clients and the language they used in proposals – which they learnt needed to move away from technical jargon to reach a wider audience.
The consultancy also helped Harman realise how he could market his business to showcase it better to potential clients. The consultant gave him insight into costing his services accurately instead of cutting prices down to attract clients, which had previously made potential customers skeptical as their prices had seemed ‘too good to be true.’
The consultancy sessions helped Harman gain new clients in the few months he was on the programme.
This programme has been a very good eye-opener. We are doing a lot of things [now], but we were just not doing them in the right way [before].Harman Sura, Enterprise Programme Participant, 2022
Learning and development
Harman has also found ways to increase income opportunities by taking part in an ARE masterclass delivered by trainers with experience of working with Black, Asian and minority ethnic business leaders. The class, ‘Enterprise Optimisation and Scoping for Growth’, looked at how leaders can optimise existing services and turn them into income generators for their enterprises.
Looking at the full scope of HMGS Technology Solutions’ work, Harman realised he had a unique asset that could be captalised upon: his company does pro-bono work for charities. Yet, they were struggling financially after the COVID-19 pandemic. To continue offering this vital service for charities, Harman needed to generate revenue from it.
Following the masterclass, Harman went to the Charity Commission to look for funding for his business to allow HMGS Technology Solutions to continue working in a more sustainable way.
In addition, Harman attended ARE’s Action Learning Sets, both as a presenter and a member, and found this way of learning highly insightful. As a presenter, it was useful to have other small, local businesses scrutinise what they are doing and how they do it.
While not being given answer on how to do things was challenging, think about solutions himself enabled him to understand if his business was approaching its activities and plans in the best way, and where there was room for improvement. He also saw a lot of value in being a member as he was able to use skills he had learnt to prompt other businesses with new ideas and saw how things worked in other industries.
One of Harman’s highlights from the programme was the chance to meet other businesses on the programme. This networking has given him more connections around Islington who share opportunities that they come across with one another.
The Enterprise Programme is no longer open for new applicants. You can read more perspectives from the Enterprise Programme here.
Contact Tara Shah for details.