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Welcoming our Enterprise Development Programme Cohorts, site visits and more...

February 17th, 2022

By Yvonne Witter FRSA

In January, The Black and Minoritised Communities Enterprise Development Programme (BMCEDP) had a welcome event and the organisations in attendance were excited and enthusiastic to be supported on the programme to gain skills, knowledge and guidance in the process of reducing grant dependency.  

We started the morning with a welcome from Yvonne Field, Founder and CEO at The Ubele Initiative, followed by Lisa Rafferty the Grants Manager at Social Investment Business. I invited to cohorts to introduce themselves and their organisations and to tell us what they hoped the Enterprise Development Programme would bring to their current work. As nearly all the cohorts were present, it was an opportunity to learn about others who were running similar projects, people from similar cultural groups and the spread across the country as to where organisations are located. 

The Women’s Inclusive Team is based in East London and they provide a wide range of services to women. In addition, they have set up the Hooyo East Cafe which serves the delicious cuisine from Somalia to liven up London taste buds. I was fortunate enough to visit them on the 8th of February with Rijia Begum from SIB, we were very well catered for within a group of women from an external agency in the NHS who were delivering wellbeing workshops earlier. The food was very tasty, we were treated to a delicious luncheon with fine conversation and it was just a wonderful opportunity again, to share skills knowledge and experience, and to learn, understand and appreciate what's being done, the challenges that organisations encounter and the amazing achievements too. We were gifted a book published on mental health and the Muslim community and that was that was that was a nice unexpected gift. We are supporting WIT to develop the sale of Somali meals to a wide audience, thus generating income, and profits. 

BME United operating out of Wolverhampton, have a business idea which involves the preparation and supply of healthy meals whilst not compromising on taste, thus maintaining the integrity of Asian and other cultural flavours. The Somali Welfare Centre in North London are building the capacity of their luncheon club with the hope that it can generate profits. Diversity Business Incubator down in Plymouth delivers enterprise education in catering. Jabo Butera is a dynamic person leading many initiatives in Plymouth. He has developed small self-contained units where young people and others can develop their skills as caterers whilst selling street food to the public. These cohorts have the potential to share skills, knowledge and experience about the food industry. 

The Cherry Groce Foundation delivers training to the Met Police, Schools, the Community and others regarding restorative justice. They are aiming to become more business minded in the development and delivery of courses and public speaking engagements to enable less reliance of grant dependency. I visited their organisation in Brixton on Friday 4th February.  

L-R Dionne Lawrence, Yvonne Witter and Lee Lawrence

Education and Training is also the core business of MEaP Making Education a Priority, Big People Community both based in Manchester, and Imagine Torbay Multicultural Group who delivers ESOL Education as a Second Language classes, developing interpretation service and creating these language conversation clubs under the leadership of the inspirational Julie Bose.  

MEaP, delivers After School educational services, Skills for Life and Lifelong Learning, they have a digital inclusion project, an online learning academy and recently launched the Inaugural Doctoral Publishing Programme. The Big People Community are developing accredited courses to support young people in building entrepreneurial skills in Manchester. Another training organisation in the cohort is The Wise Youth Trust that I was able to on the 8th of February too. 

I had been excited about their work with young boys and was taken on a tour of the facility. Seeing the location of their office and the conditions in which they work, the equipment used, and you envision the young people within the space, and you see some of the work that young people have produced. It really brings a whole other perspective to what I'm doing and really makes me even more excited to be doing this work. 

I've learned that it's quite important to meet people in the flesh, and actually make that human connection, as you then experience the full magnitude of peoples’ passion and the extent of the work that they're doing. Sometimes everything is not apparent via zoom but when you're able to actually engage people cross the table we experience a different kind of energy, a different kind of buzz, and I found it really inspirational. 

L-R Rijia Begum, Ade Abayomi and Yvonne Witter

The EDP is on target with the support package the Peer Action Learning starts in March and runs at six weekly intervals for small groups. The first seminar on 9th February Moving from Grants to Trading Income was interactive and provided great learning opportunities. Melanie Bryant received good feedback and clearly fulfilled the brief. Participants have expressed an interest in knowing more about CRM systems and how they can support business operations.  

The new round for applicants on this EDP will open in summer this year. Stay tuned!


Support from the BMCEDP enables organisations to grow financial resilience and impact by providing a mixture of grant and learning support to help get enterprise ideas off the ground.

The EDP is led by a partnership of national infrastructure bodies seeking to support the development of enterprise models in charities and social enterprises working in certain thematic sectors. It has been developed and is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. Social Investment Business (SIB) provide a management role for the overall programme. EDP’s current sector themes cover Equality, Homelessness, Mental Health and Youth, with sector partners Equally Ours, Homeless Link, The Association of Mental Health Providers, and The Centre for Youth Impact.

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