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Social entrepreneurs are being given a once in a lifetime opportunity to access tailored advice and mentoring from the very top of the business world through a new partnership between Barclays and Startup Direct, founding partner of the Government’s Start up Loans Scheme.

A group of nine carefully selected entrepreneurs who are either from a disadvantaged background themselves, or whose business has a strong social focus, have been selected by Startup Direct to attend an advisory session on 21 October 2014.

During the event, each of the entrepreneurs will benefit from their own personal mentoring session with six Barclays executives, including Chief Executive Antony Jenkins. Executives, who work across Barclays’ UK businesses, are volunteering their skills and expertise to review business plans, offer advice on areas such as strategy, finance and marketing, and acting as consultants to the entrepreneurs. Before the event, entrepreneurs will provide information about their businesses and the particular challenges they must overcome, enabling the mentors to deliver well-researched, tailored advice that will really have a positive impact.

The partnership is part of Barclays’ Five Million Young Futures commitment, which aims to help five million young people, by 2015, build the enterprise, employability and financial skills they need to achieve their potential.

“We are working with some of the UK’s best social entrepreneurs and this new partnership will give them access to some of the most experienced and knowledgeable people in the business world,” said James Pattison, CEO of Startup Direct. “This is about meaningful, hands on, practical advice which tackles head on the difficulties faced by each social entrepreneur as they grow their business.”

Debbie Phillips, Vice President of Community Investment at Barclays, added, “Using the vast experience and skillset of our employees, we are committed to helping inspire start-up businesses with a strong social focus to realise positive outcomes.”

Case study: Chloe’s story

BARCLAYS EXECUTIVES TO DELIVER FREE MENTORING AND ADVICE TO UK’S OUTSTANDING SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURS 2Chloe Hoole established ethical babywear brand Darlo (www.alittlegiving.com) in 2013 following a trip to India and South America, where she came up with the idea of a business that puts giving to disadvantaged children in developing countries at the heart of the purchase decision. Through a partnership with a charity in India, Project Crayons, Darlo pledges that each product sold in the UK provides a week’s worth of meals for a child in India. With no textiles, design or manufacturing experience, it has been a steep learning curve for Chloe and her partner Jim, who were determined that their product should be ethically manufactured in India. They are now just days away from receiving their first shipment and launching their online shop.

Chloe said: “The opportunity to discuss Darlo with senior executives at Barclays is incredibly exciting for us. We will be seeking advice on how we can equip ourselves for growth, increasing traffic to our website as we launch our online shop and how we can grow our reputation as a top class supplier. We can’t wait to hear what the experts have to say about our business and where we need to focus our energies as we approach the next phase, actually delivering our product to consumers.”