North East Connected

Mentor scheme inspires next generation of North-East entrepreneurs

Several North-East businesses are backing a programme designed to help budding young entrepreneurs from Newcastle and surrounding areas.

Business Sparks, a programme led by Reviving the Heart of The West End (RHWE) offers a package of support including group workshops, business advice, test trading and the opportunity to be matched with an existing business expert.

The voluntary mentor programme pairs up an experienced business owner with a young person, and the mentor offers hands-on support and advice to help get their business idea up and running. The programme, running in October, currently has ten businesses offering support to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Ian Ross, director of Assure Building Control in Gateshead, was one of the business mentors to be paired with a Business Spark. Ian spent around a year mentoring Craig Cheel who is now successfully running his business Apeuro Freerunning.

Despite having his own commitments running a business, he was keen to get involved and share his knowledge with his mentee. Ian said: “The concept of being a mentor appealed to me. My colleague and I had just set up Assure Building Control, but in spite of our combined experience, we still made mistakes.

“For young people, it can be extremely difficult to know where to start when you first enter in to business.  That was one of the main reasons I chose to be a mentor. I thought if I could help a young person start and consider their decisions carefully based on what I’ve learned, then it would be worthwhile.

“Having been in the young person’s shoes, it’s nice to give guidance – to be excited and have belief in your ideas but not to make impulsive decisions, and to make decisions with your head and not your heart.”

Hannah Morrow, development officer at RHWE said: “Business Sparks acts as a platform for young people to get their ideas off the ground. These ideas are often great, but they need help getting started. Alongside the other opportunities we offer, working with a mentor is key to helping the young person turn their idea into a functioning business.

“Having a mentor helps them gain a real business sense, and learn about all aspects of business that they may not have thought about previously. To have local businesses on board and backing the North-East’s young people is invaluable, as they collectively have many years of expertise behind them.”

To find out more about the Business Sparks programme, call Hannah Morrow 0191 226 7300.

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