Aspiring entrepreneurs at University College Birmingham have been boosted by one-to-one support from experts at one of the country's leading financial institutions as part of a new mentoring scheme.
In an official partnership with UCB, Lloyds Banking Group have provided dedicated mentors to support students and graduates from the University who have set up their own businesses.
The scheme was launched by UCB's Enterprise Hive, which offers a range of services to help student start-ups – including an intensive package of support available through the Birmingham Skills for Enterprise and Employability Network (BSEEN) Programme.
First launched last year, the 12-month mentoring scheme introduces students to a personal mentor from Lloyds Banking Group who can provide them with regular consultations and advice to help their start-up companies grow, as well as offering potential networking opportunities.
MSc International Tourism Management graduate Patrik Huber, founder of wellbeing firm Inspire Spirit, explained how the mentoring support helped him both from a business and a personal perspective.
"I would definitely recommend this mentoring scheme to other students who want to start their entrepreneurial journey," he said. "My mentor has provided me with first-class support across various areas in business, giving me direction for the next steps in development.
"Not only will you gain the business support from experienced people in the field, but you will also receive mental support which is absolutely crucial for new entrepreneurs. There will be times you feel overwhelmed and it is very important to know that you are not alone when this happens.
“I am so grateful to Enterprise Hive as well – the dedication and business expertise of the staff is incredible,” he added. “To be part of the business environment and meet people with the same passion is absolutely awesome.”
Having launched her own social enterprise focusing on mental health, MSc Enterprise Management graduate Veronika Kosikova explained how her mentor had supported her with branding and business strategy.
"My mentor advised me on various options concerning my trademark and logo, as well as discussing my future goals," she said.
"One of the main positives is that we see eye to eye, and that I have someone there who can provide an objective opinion with the intention to help."
The mentoring programme was launched with the help of Brenda Harnett, Improvement and Engagement Manager (Payments Operations) at Lloyds Banking Group, who explained the benefits not only for UCB's student entrepreneurs but also the professional development and wellbeing of the mentors.
"We have badged the support we provide to UCB students as that of a critical and impartial friend who will listen and advise," she said.
"Our aim is to help students challenge themselves and adopt a 'fresh eyes' approach to everything they do, encouraging them to be challenging of themselves and accept some things will fail, but to learn quickly and go again.
"The mentoring partnership also provides us at Lloyds Banking Group with exposure to fresh perspectives, ideas and approaches, and helps us develop our own personal leadership and coaching styles," she added.
"One of the key benefits is also the personal satisfaction that mentoring brings – it is genuinely fulfilling to know you have contributed to someone else's growth and development, so seeing a mentee succeed is definitely a big part of the reward."
UCB lecturer and Enterprise Hive adviser Joe Margetts said: “I would personally like to thank Lloyds Banking Group on behalf of the University and BSEEN Project for supporting our students with professional mentoring.
“The past 12 months have been a rewarding experience for our students and undoubtedly the support from the group has enabled our students’ businesses to develop exponentially. We look forward to the exciting future of our partnership.”
The mentoring scheme is currently open to students and graduates on the BSEEN Programme, which provides budding entrepreneurs with a wealth of start-up support including an intensive business bootcamp and a £500 grant as well as networking opportunities.
If you are thinking of starting up your own business, or if you are interested in the BSEEN Programme and mentoring with Lloyds Banking Group, visit UCB’s Enterprise Hive for more information and how to apply.