Ipswich business people volunteer to mentor refugees
- Credit: Archant
Would-be refugee entrepreneurs and volunteer mentors were at the launch of a new Ipswich business project.
Ipswich is one of three centres in the east chosen for the new Changing Faces, Changing Places programme, offering business training and mentoring to help refugees turn their business ideas into a reality.
The pilot project is supported by the Centre for Entrepreneurs with National Lottery community funding.
In Ipswich, Norwich and Peterborough the training programme is being delivered by MENTA working with the Strategic Migration Partnership to identify people who want to develop business plans in their new home.
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Last week a launch event was held at the Ipswich International Church, giving would-be entrepreneurs the chance to showcase their ideas and skills, and to meet volunteer mentors from within the local business community.
At Ipswich there were new business people showcasing home-made Middle Eastern food, handmade children's clothes, and others offering graphic design skills and lingerie-making.
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Alex Till, chief executive of MENTA, said: "We are really excited to be launching this new refugee initiative. It is an extremely positive way for refugees to showcase their abundance of skills and talents and for the local community to assist in their integration.
"The plan is to provide a range of specialist support to offer these budding entrepreneurs from our region the opportunity to gain the confidence, information and knowledge required to start their new business within their local communities."
Louise Gooch, senior policy officer of the Suffolk-based Strategic Migration Partnership said the Ipswich launch had been a great success.
"We got a nice mixture of refugees who wanted to display and showcase what they were making, and others who wanted quality business information and wanted to find out a but more about the programme by talking to staff.
"It was lovely to see so many people who wanted to be mentors as well. We have some really interesting, committed people who have put themselves forward which bodes well for the success of the project. I am really optimistic.
"We have half-a-dozen people signed up for the first programme and we have room for a few more."
For more information contact MENTA on 01284 760206.