Black South West Network – enabling Bristol entrepreneurs

Black South West Network (BSWN) is a regional racial justice organisation supporting the development of dynamic, independent, strong Black and Minoritised communities, businesses and organisations. Earlier this year, SMV was invited by BSWN to support a new initiative aimed at widening access to business start-up support, finance and networks for businesses and social enterprises across the South West of England.

In this first phase, seven members of SMV are working with a group of dynamic entrepreneurs from Bristol’s Black and Minoritised community in a mentoring role as the group develops their individual businesses over a 12-month period.

In September, the first ‘mentoring mingle’ was held in St Pauls, hosted by Sado Jirde, CEO of BSWN, and Derek Tanner, Enterprise Development Manager. The energy and enthusiasm of everyone involved resulted in valuable connections being made with each entrepreneur matching up with a mentor.

Over the coming weeks and months, they will spend time getting to know each other and building their working relationship so that the mentors can add real value as the entrepreneurs develop their start-ups. Every other month the teams will come together to share learning and broaden the experience as a wider group.

Amongst the Bristol-based start-ups to have signed up to the programme are:

  • Adolescent Support Home Services and Diverse Dolls 4 All, both projects aimed at supporting young people who have suffered child abuse and exploitation, run by registered social worker Simon Ashman, matched with SMV member David Freed, co-founder of Deeley Freed, an independent Bristol-based group of property companies that specialises in mixed-use regeneration projects.
  • The Green Melon, a local vegetable box scheme promoting healthy eating with affordable, fresh, plastic-free, culturally appropriate food, run by husband and wife team John Aguirre and Tara Miran, matched with SMV member Mark Burchfield, who built his career in engineering and IT managed services and grew his company to be a European market leader.
  • International Graduate Success Accelerator, run by Kiki Paddy, connects international graduates with public and private sector companies, helping them to integrate into the UK labour market and build successful careers, matched with SMV member Mohammed Saddiq, Executive Director of Operations for Wessex Water and a passionate advocate for the environment, sustainability and for businesses helping to address issues of inequality and social mobility.
  • Jerk King, an Afro-Caribbean award-winning events catering business, led by Ashley Burrowes, matched with SMV member Michael Bothamley, a retired development lawyer and former partner at Bristol-based international law firm DAC Beachcroft.
  • Jikoni, an East African food outlet and event caterer whose customers are able to share the unique history and culture of East Africa through food, run by Iman Salat and James Hillier, matched with SMV member Sam Roberts, co-owner of independent cafe group Boston Tea Party.
  • KC Concepts, Bristol’s first Black-owned pop-up shop showcasing 40 Black British brands across art, lifestyle, beauty and fashion, driven by owner Latoya Adlam, matched with SMV member Edward Ware, whose career has been in property investment and construction.
  • Maroon Fist, a martial arts blend of traditional Chinese and African moves with Tai-Chi, boxing and self-defence, led by coach Leonard Jackson, matched with SMV member David Powell, a retired solicitor who spent 40 years practising in Bristol.

SMV members with entrepreneurs, from left to right: Latoya Adlam (KC Concepts), Iman Salat (Jikoni), Simon Ashman (Adolescent Support Home Services and Diverse Dolls 4 All), Leonard Jackson (Maroon Fist), James Hillier (Jikoni), John Aguirre (The Green Melon), Kiki Paddy (International Graduate Success Accelerator), BSWN’s Derek Tanner and Ashley Burrowes (Jerk King)