Lloyds Banking Group supports farming mentoring project

Lloyds Banking Group is supporting a government funded project to recruit, train and deploy volunteer enterprise mentors, to give additional help to 200 SMEs in the farming sector.

The project, Get Mentoring in Farming, is led by Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI), and they have successfully applied for a government funded initiative to give this additional resource the agricultural community

It is a UK wide initiative that will recruit and train volunteer enterprise mentors from all specialist and professional areas that can support the farming sector. The project will then run events and work to match these mentors with farming related businesses that are looking for mentoring support.

As well as Lloyds Banking Group, the project is supported by the NFU, NFYFC, LANTRA, AHDB, Waitrose, FCN, Business Mentors South West, British Bankers’ Association and DEFRA.

SFEDI is the UK government recognised standard setting body for business enterprise and enterprise support in the UK. It delivers projects which have a direct impact on the skills and knowledge development of SMEs.

Lloyds Banking Group has been working closely with SFEDI since the nation-wide mentoring programme was set up in 2011 by the Business Finance Taskforce and the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), with the overall aim of helping the economy return to sustainable growth by training industry professionals to share their own skills and experience with entrepreneurs.

Jackie Jenks, Senior Manager, Enterprise Mentoring, Lloyds Banking Group, said, “Our support in this project means that we are able to recruit more enterprise mentors with skills and experience within the agriculture sector, who can help farming businesses that are looking for mentoring support. This is part of our Helping Britain Prosper Plan and includes volunteers from our Agricultural teams and the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation.

Gavin Hay, an agricultural business manager who has recently trained as an enterprise mentor for this project, said, “It is both satisfying and inspiring to see a small business turn an idea into reality. The agricultural community is resourceful, hard working and ingenious, so I count myself as being fortunate to be connected with it.

“Mentoring is worthwhile in itself and through sharing my own knowledge and experience, I hope to contribute to what the UK agriculture sector needs to succeed.”

Enterprise mentoring is a proven tool to support businesses succeed in the longer term and The Future of Farming Review (2013) specifically highlighted the importance of business and management skills and the role mentoring takes in developing these skills for the Agricultural community.

Ruth Lowbridge, Executive Chair at SFEDI, says, “SFEDI is proud to announce its lead on this exciting project providing mentors with training and connecting those mentors to farming and agricultural businesses in vital need of support. Our own research shows that the best form of support comes from other business owners who have ‘been there, done that’ and had the hands on experience of starting or running a business.”

Alick Jones, Agriculture Policy Director, Lloyds Banking Group is a member of DEFRA’s Farming Resilience Group which has initiated a number of projects to bring additional skills to some parts of the farming sector such as Get Mentoring in Farming, says, “I am delighted that the Group has been able to work with SFEDI on this initiative, and that some of our colleagues in the Agriculture teams are able to bring their skills and experience to the table to help put additional strength and depth into those farming businesses that need more than simply financial support”

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