Business support body takes action as funding source dries up

Alex Till, chief executive of Menta, who is exploring post-Brexit commercial opportunities for the b

Alex Till, chief executive of Menta, who is exploring post-Brexit commercial opportunities for the business support body Picture: ANDY ABBOTT - Credit: Andy Abbott

A business support organisation is bracing itself for the loss of European Union funding by boosting its commercial property arm and paid-for business advice and training.

Menta – which operates across Suffolk and Norfolk supporting around 1,200 businesses a year – hopes to bolster its financial position through a new five-year plan with “challenging” growth targets and new products and services, said chief executive Alex Till.

“A key objective of our board of directors is for Menta to become a stronger organisation,” he said. “We are therefore exploring commercial opportunities that will enable us to move away from European funding as the primary income for enterprise – such as, online learning, commercial business advice and an increase in commercial properties.”

MORE – Safari organiser back on the trail after lockdownThe 35-year-old organisation – based in Bury St Edmunds – offers one-to-one advice, training workshops and networking events, and focuses on helping start-ups and new businesses. It also provides workspace with a 95% occupancy rate.

“Menta remains steadfastly committed to our core values and beliefs – to be the best at helping businesses to start, grow and succeed through the delivery of advice, training, events and space,” said Mr Till, speaking in Menta’s Summer Report 2020.

Chief business adviser Pauline Prockter said she and her colleagues had been “inundated with worried business owners needing help to unravel government guidance on Covid-19 grants and loans, as well as any other support available to keep their businesses and personal lives afloat” during the coronavirus pandemic.

“At MENTA, we made a conscious decision to support every business that (virtually) knocked on our door during this difficult time,” she said. “Menta’s reputation as a centre for fantastic business advice and where clients are dealt with professionally and with integrity, came into its own.”

Meanwhile Monica Bell, Refugee Entrepreneurship Programme project manager at Menta, said the organisation was helping a number of refugee entrepreneurs, with one already up and running having converted his catering van to a parcel delivery service. They are also expecting to see a tiler, painter and decorator and a new entrepreneur selling Syrian groceries to go live by September, with three more clients set to begin trading by December.

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In October 2019, Menta was one of four national organisations chosen to deliver a 12-month business research project aimed at helping integrate refugees and help them establish businesses which is sponsored by the Home Office and funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.