engage magazine issue 005 \\\'07 - Page 42

42 NEIGHBOURHOOD DIVERSITY At East Thames we are committed to ensuring our suppliers reflect the diversity of the neighbourhoods in which we work. Therefore we have created opportunities for framework partners and SMEs to be equipped with the right tools and mindset to make this work, through workshops and our ‘meet the partner’ networking events. Here we look at a few of the companies that have taken advantage of these opportunities. By Hannah Cornford Company: NEA Managing Director: Jerome Albarus Working with the minority owned business Nichols Employment Agency (NEA) has enabled us to make real progress with engaging SMEs in our maintenance framework tender process. NEA developed training and support for the tender, facilitated four workshops for suppliers wishing to apply, and contributed to the creation of a specialised tender to assist SMEs. This resulted in 50% of tender submissions being from small BAME business. They also gave one-to-one support for shortlisted businesses such as SG Gardening, a specialised provider of gardening services, who were applying for a tender for the first time. Company: Axis Europe Ltd Chief Exec: John Hayes Axis contacted our Diversity Business Partner earlier this year following one of our events. This event had focussed on our aims to increase spend with SMEs who are BAME, female or disabled led or owned. Within four weeks Axis had mentored and given work to two SMEs. They have been pro-active in supporting these small businesses by sharing good practice. Chief Executive John Hayes and Divisional Company: In Living Colour Owned and run by Daniel Bernard Daniel met Axis earlier this year at one of our Meet the Partner events and has since been working closely with them as a sub contractor. He said: “Axis have been mentoring me on how to grow into the industry. This includes giving me advice on how the industry works and how to build working relationships. As a new SME it is really useful to gain as much support as possible in order to remain competitive in an industry which is dominated by large contractors. Director Joe Ibrahim (pictured) are personal mentors and help the SMEs to identify short, medium and long-term goals. John Hayes, Chief Executive, said: “Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience; for the mentored person it is a unique chance to gain insight into growing and managing a larger business allied to highlighting, and hopefully avoiding, some of the pitfalls that may be encountered. For me as the mentor it helps to keep me grounded, acting as a reminder as to how tough it is for smaller businesses to grow. It is very rewarding to see agreed action plans and ideas put into practice.” “At the Meet the Partner event East Thames mentioned the problems SMEs can face, such as pay, and Axis have always taken these issues into consideration and incorporated my needs into what they’re doing - such as passing on contracts that are sustainable for my business. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank East Thames and Axis for their ongoing support.” engage | uk ISSUE FIVE 2007