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Thames Valley Berkshire Businesss Growth Hub to offer a women in business group for Berkshire SMEs

Thames Valley Berkshire Business Growth Hub has announced it will offer a women in business group, as well as mixed cohorts, as part of this year’s peer-to-peer networking programme for Berkshire SMEs.

Recognising the benefits of diversity in business, the Growth Hub is also encouraging business leaders from all backgrounds, ethnicities and industries to register for the free programme.

Part of the Government’s national Peer Networks initiative, the programme brings together cohorts of business leaders to discuss business challenges and opportunities.

Women in business
Women in business

Delivered through a series of six online group sessions with a trained facilitator, business owners will share their first-hand experiences, discuss common issues and identify practical solutions to overcome them.

The programme aims to help SMEs create a trusted local support network, adapt and improve productivity.

Julian Mobbs, from the Berkshire Growth Hub, said: “Diversity in business can drive growth and generate new opportunities, which is why we are keen to attract business leaders from all industries, backgrounds and ethnicities on to our Peer Networks programme.

"We are particularly keen to encourage more female business leaders to sign up for the programme, so we are offering a women in business group for the first time as well as several mixed cohorts.

"We’d also like to see more applications from companies in the creative and digital tech sectors.”

The programme is open to SMEs that have a minimum of five employees and an annual turnover of a least £100,000.

Multiple start dates are available for those interested in signing up to the programme, which is being delivered by the Berkshire Growth Hub in partnership with Asesoria Group.

The pilot programme, which between October 2020 and March 2021 saw more than 65 Berkshire business leaders take part, has received a 94 per cent satisfaction rating from participants.

Rita Gupta, managing director of LGFL – a leading boutique firm of family lawyers in Berkshire – and the Boutique MD Ltd, was one of the business leaders to participate in the first programme.

“The concept of the Peer Networks programme was really positive,” she said.

“It was good to share experiences and exchange knowledge with other business leaders in a safe, non-competitive environment.

"You can speak openly and be vulnerable about business challenges as it is all confidential.

"I gained some valuable insights into how other businesses work and ideas for my own business.

"The group acts as a useful professional sounding board, so much so that we have continued to meet up even after the programme finished.

“I was the only female in my group on the programme, so I am pleased to see that the Berkshire Growth Hub will be offering both mixed and female only groups this year to encourage more female business leaders to take part.”

Sabina Gonzalez-George, marketing director of CREAT3D in Winnersh, also had praise for the programme.

She said: “When you are a director, you spend a lot of time fighting fires.

"Joining Peer Networks was an excellent way to schedule in time for wider business discussions and sound out ideas with other business leaders who face similar pressures and challenges as you.

"You can always learn something new, so the programme is a brilliant way to test an idea and gain objective feedback.

"Plus, the facilitator was great at ensuring everyone had a chance to speak.”

Those joining Peer Networks will take part in a series of virtual peer sessions, whose content is determined by the participants themselves based on their own challenges and opportunities – finance, change management, sales and marketing, management processes, and implementation of technology, are all likely to feature.

In addition, each participant will be able to access one-to-one support from the Berkshire Growth Hub’s team of experienced business advisers, all of whom have run their own businesses.

Since it was established in 2014, the Growth Hub has supported more than 5,000 small and medium-sized businesses across Berkshire.

A one-stop shop for business advice, the team has successfully helped businesses raise finance, increase profitability, and devise growth strategies.

The Peer Network programme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and is being delivered locally by the network of Growth Hubs across England.

To register your interest in Berkshire’s Peer Networks, email info@berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk, call (0118) 209 0000 or visit www.berkshirebusinesshub.co.uk

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