Businesses in the West Midlands are being urged to sign up for the second phase of a training programme designed to help build the capacity and capability of businesses who are seeking global growth opportunities. 


The Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme (ICLP), which is fully-funded by Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), supports SMEs from within diverse communities to accelerate their growth. 25 companies have already benefited from the scheme and a second cohort of businesses are set to begin the programme from October 2020.


One of the businesses to take part in the first instalment of the programme was Great Barr-based Green Sisters, founded by sisters Geeta and Reena Salhan. The business produces award-winning ‘free-from’ Indian food.  


Geeta Salhan, Green Sisters, said: “While helping us access advice and funding, the programme has also helped us develop our entire philosophy of our food being ‘free from compromise’, which means working with like-minded individuals and companies to take our products forward in the way we want to. 


"If you're passionate about growing your business and you're a small business owner I would encourage you to apply for the next cohort of the Inclusive Commonwealth Legacy Programme." 


The ICLP is an innovative partnership delivered in collaboration between the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP), Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee, CRÈME (Centre for Research for Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship) and the Legacy Centre of Excellence Birmingham.  


The programme provides six months of peer to peer learning and development, where business owners will complete a series of interactive modules of action-learning, training and support facilitated by leading industry experts, in an inclusive and supportive environment.


The sessions were originally delivered face to face; however they have been adapted to be delivered online whilst social distancing measures are in place.  


An additional benefit for businesses involved is a fully-funded bilateral trade membership to the Commonwealth Chamber of Commerce, which offers additional support through events, training and opportunities to export to commonwealth countries. 

Joel Blake OBE, award-winning businessman and ICLP Lead said: “The first phase of the ICLP Programme has seen some real success stories and has provided businesses in a variety of different sectors and from all parts of Greater Birmingham with free access to business experts to help them accelerate their global growth potential.


“The first cohort of businesses not only benefitted from picking up new skills to help them expand and adapt their models for future growth, but from sharing their experience with fellow business owners. A real sense of camaraderie has been developed within the cohort, with many collaborating with and supporting each other throughout Covid-19, whether it be providing their services, sharing premises or experience to help where possible. 


“The word has spread about the ICLP programme and diverse businesses from Leeds to Hampshire joined our online workshops but only those in the GBSLEP region can have access to funded help. 

“This is an immensely challenging time for SMEs, and this programme has shown how a truly inclusive approach with positive action can add tremendous value for our businesses, here in the region and abroad. For those who could benefit, we would urge them to sign up as soon as possible to ensure they don’t miss out.” 


The final deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 30th September 2020.