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New scheme has a lot of mileage

Business MentorsAn innovative new support scheme for local businesses was launched in the early hours of the morning earlier this month, when a coach carrying thirty entrepreneurs, advisers and business mentors left Plymouth bound for the NEC in Birmingham.

The visit to the country's largest giftware show was organised by Business Volunteer Mentors Devon and Cornwall (BVM), and made available to businesses supported through BVM and the South West Investment Group (SWIG).

Participants came from all over Devon and Cornwall, from the Scilly Isles to Barnstaple.

The trip was the first of its type, providing a hands-on opportunity for businesses in the 'creative industries' sector to increase their understanding of market places and marketing techniques.

As the coach made its the way up the M5, having picked up passengers in Buckfastleigh, Exeter and Tiverton, business mentors gave an expert briefing session to those on board to help them get the most out of their day. As well as free travel and entry to the show, participants were given Information packs help guide them round the vast event. Whilst at the NEC, the group mustered at agreed times to share notes and experiences.

All of the participants found the day to be very useful to the development of their businesses, and are now looking forward to a de-briefing session to be arranged in the near future.

One of the participants was Julia Schofield of Tombodama, an exclusive fashion and bridal jewellery company with outlets in Porthleven and Falmouth. She commented: "The day was very interesting and enjoyable."

Two other participants were Christine and Zinnia Basil of Barnstaple, who are in the process of setting up a business reproducing and distributing rare photographic prints. Christine commented: "It was a very helpful and well-organised event. It proved to be a valuable experience in terms of research and getting to grips with different approaches to marketing."

The success of the event has prompted BVM and SWIG to begin jointly planning a programme of hands-on marketing events throughout the coming months, targeting specific sectors. The events will be supported using European Objective One and Two funding.

Andrew Copp from BVM commented: "The trip to the NEC was hugely successful. We have been overwhelmed by the enthusiasm of those businesses that took part.

"We are now looking forward to running similar events with SWIG and taking entrepreneurs out to visit key buyers, agents and distributors, as well leading businesses in different sectors that our clients can learn from. We will also be setting up a sector- based intranet and website. The scheme is really exciting - it has quite literally got a lot of mileage in it!"

For further information contact:

South West Investment Group
Trevint House
Strangways Villas
Truro TR1 2PA
Telephone: 01872 223883
Fax: 01872 242470

Business Volunteer Mentors (Devon & Cornwall)
City Business Park
Somerset Place
PLymouth PL2 2BD
Telephone: 01752 211211


Editor's notes:

Names of participant businesses:

David & Beth Thomas - Oriental Gardens
Zinnia & Christine Basil - Photograpic Archive
Carol Roland - Roland Originals
Julia Schofield - Tombodama
Peter & Esther Rundle - The Shady Candle Co
David Trewin - Wood Turner
Stephen Morris - Glandore Gallery
Carole Mackenzie-Gale - Hand Printed Silk
Alan Jacobs - Natural Images
David Cockin & Pam Mergler - Blue Jenny Distribution
Ross Heriot - Imagelife
Richard Coles - Creative Republic
Vera Hallums - Brazil Trade

To contact any of the businesses mentioned for further information, please contact Andrew Copp at BVM or John Peters at SWIG.


Jason Clark
Communications Adviser
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Tel: 01872 241379
Fax: 01872 241388

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