MORE business leaders across the region are being urged to donate their time and expertise under a scheme to help new entrepreneurs establish and accelerate the growth of their businesses.

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Members of the 5th Floor Club, one strand of activity run by the Ipswich-based Eastern Enterprise Hub, have already contributed to the hub’s success in assisting the launch of 41 new enterprises over the past 18 months.

But with the hub seeing a sharp increase in student numbers on its learning programmes, which include the School for Social Entrepreneurs – East, the Enterprise Academy, for young people aged 16 to 18, and a monthly Enterprise Club for would-be entrepreneurs who have been out work for some reason, it is looking to expand the number of 5th Floor Club members significantly.

Through the hub, business leaders can become involved in supporting new entrepreneurs in many different ways, from acting as one-to-one mentors, sharing their real life experience through a master class with a group of students, providing direct expertise to support the development of a new enterprise and through sponsorship.

For the business community, it is a tangible way to demonstrate responsible corporate citizenship and to work collectively to boost the region’s economy and support the development of community services.

The drive to recruit more business leaders to the scheme was launched at an after-work 5th Floor Club reception attended by business, academic and public sector leaders.

Harry Berry, chairman of the Eastern Enterprise Hub, said: ‘’Ever since we established the EE Hub, just over 18 months ago, the extent to which the business community have shown real enterprise responsibility by sharing their time, expertise and passion to support to new entrepreneurs has been amazing.

“As business leaders, we have a collective role to play in growing the region’s economy by supporting more people who want to start a businesses through sharing our collective knowledge and experience with them – the 5th Floor Club, here at the EE Hub provides an effective structure to do just that.”

Andrea Davies, the hub’s chief executive, added: “We have seen rapid growth in demand for our enterprise learning programmes; the Enterprise Academy alone will see a ten-fold increase in students this year.

“It is vital that all our students continue to benefit from the same high quality intervention, driven by real business people transferring all their high-level expertise, experience and commercial acumen.

“The unique partnership we have developed between the business, academic and public sector communities has delivered innovative and highly effective learning programmes that make a real different to the business success of all those we work with, be they a young person through the academy or a social entrepreneur applying real business thinking to benefit their communities.

“This is very much a two-way process; our students gain real business insight whilst businesses find it incredibly rewarding and fun – we want more people to get involved.”

Members of the business community wishing to find out more about the work of the 5th Floor Club and its support for early stage entrepreneurs should contact Brigit Parker at the hub on 01473 527100.

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