‘How to be a winner’: online masterclass on the King’s Award for Enterprise

The West Midlands Lieutenancy is holding a free virtual masterclass on Wednesday 26 June. It is for anyone who is planning to apply for a King’s Award for Enterprise and wants to boost their chances of success.

The King’s Awards for Enterprise is the UK’s most prestigious business award. Winning one can raise your company’s profile, boost staff morale and help secure more work.

The hour-long session will be delivered via Microsoft Teams. It will include presentations about the awards and top tips on how to submit a successful application. A previous winner will also join to share their own success story and the benefits of winning an award.

To book your place, complete the sign-up form.

Access to Finance: information and advice workshop from Business Growth West Midlands

BGWM’s Investment Readiness team is hosting this free, interactive Access to Finance workshop on Thursday 11 July.

The session is aimed at Birmingham, Solihull and Black Country SMEs. It will give an overview of the funding options available to businesses, and help demystify the funding landscape. And it’s taking place at our very own Sandwell Start-Up Hub in Oldbury.

Topics covered will include:

  • Debt finance and understanding interest rates
  • Alternative finance
  • Grant funding – is it free?
  • Crowdfunding – reward, social and equity
  • Angel investment and venture capital – when is it right for you?
  • The importance of creating a pitch deck or business plan
  • Financial forecasting and why it’s the narrative you need

There will also be access to online resources and further support from the Access to Finance team.

Doors open at 9.30am for refreshments, registration and networking. The session runs from 10am to 1pm.

Book your free place on Eventbrite.

NatWest Accelerator: empowering UK entrepreneurs

The NatWest Accelerator supports and empowers UK entrepreneurs and business owners to scale their businesses to the next level.

This six-month, fully funded accelerator programme offers comprehensive support and expertise to overcome growth barriers. You will gain access to invaluable resources, including funding and finance advice, effective sales strategies and access to an entrepreneurial community. The programme is tailored to meet the unique needs of each business, with a focus on ambitious entrepreneurs eager to learn and contribute to the community’s ecosystem.

Why apply?

The NatWest Accelerator programme provides a wealth of opportunities. Participants benefit from six months of dedicated support, receiving guidance from mentors, partners and seasoned entrepreneurs. Experienced acceleration managers are also on hand to provide continuous assistance. Participants will be able to take advantage of a variety of valuable events and tap into a network of like-minded peers. Additionally, modern co-working spaces located in their nationwide hubs will be available.

Application criteria:

  • Are you the owner or decision maker in your business?
  • Are you working full time on this business?
  • Do you know there are customers who want your product or service?
  • Do you employ staff?
  • Are you aiming to build your team?
  • Are you looking to grow or scale your business?
  • Are you open to coaching, ready to learn and develop?
  • Are you committed to accelerating growth?
  • How are your applications assessed?

NatWest will evaluate you based on your ambition to grow your business, your desire to become part of the community and your willingness to learn. The review process will aim to understand your business and your goals to determine if it’s the right time for you to join the accelerator.

Supply Chain Transition Programme open for applications

Business Grown West Midlands is accepting applications for its Supply Chain Transition Programme. This scheme helps SMEs win new orders in growing areas of the economy.

The Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund finances the programme, which will support 160 West Midlands firms to win new business. It is part of the West Midlands Plan for Growth, helping local companies gain new customers, increase sales and boost employment.

Three key growth sectors

The Supply Chain Transition Programme is focused on three key growth sectors – Aerospace, very light rail and electric light vehicles, and micromobility. Delivery partners in each sector will help companies understand the sector, discover business opportunities and meet procurement requirements. 

Successful applicants can access information and training through workshops, one-to-one coaching and peer support. There will also be access to exclusive ‘meet the buyer’ events.

Participating SMEs can expect help to:

  • prepare a roadmap to new sales,
  • develop risk analysis, mitigation and prevention,
  • develop the management team,
  • gain new accreditations,
  • develop a marketing strategy,
  • develop a training and recruitment plan.

We’re here to help

Sandwell is home to many businesses with supply chain potential, particularly in the area of very light rail and electric light vehicles. If you think your company could be one of their new suppliers, talk to our Business Growth Team. We will be happy to talk over your application to give you the best chance of success.

Register your interest

Complete the form

Sandwell: the smart place to invest

This week, Sandwell Council is heading north to showcase the region and demonstrate that Sandwell is the smart place in which to invest.

Representatives from Sandwell Council will be attending the West Midlands pavilion at UKREiiF – the UK’s Real Estate Investment & Infrastructure Forum in Leeds. As well as uniting with other councils to showcase the West Midlands region, they will tell delegates about the wealth of regeneration and investment opportunities right here in Sandwell.

The aim of UKREiiF is to connect people, places and businesses, to accelerate and unlock sustainable, inclusive and transformational investment. It attracts over 12,000 attendees, including developers, agents, contractors and exhibitors. In 2024, it runs from Tuesday 21 May to Thursday 23 May at the Royal Armouries Leeds & Leeds Dock.

UKREiiF: a packed event programme

For the first time at UKREiiF, the cities and towns of the West Midlands are uniting to showcase real estate and regeneration opportunities worth more than £20bn. From town centre transformations to university-backed innovation campuses, affordable housing to next-generation mixed use schemes, there is so much happening in our region.

So in the special West Midlands pavilion at UKREiiF this week, the West Midlands Growth Company is delivering a packed programme of networking sessions, presentations and discussions. Topics will include low carbon infrastructure, creative clusters, town centre regeneration, urban housing, social value and sport-related investment.

To see the full itinerary, download the brochure.

Key points that our own representatives will be putting across are Sandwell’s great location, growing and diverse population, excellent infrastructure and sector specialisms. These include advanced manufacturing and logistics, business and financial services, life sciences, and food and drink.

Read the Sandwell Investment brochure PDF will download in a new tab

Improving Sandwell for everyone

They will also be taking brochures detailing regeneration progress in several Sandwell towns. Across Smethwick, Tipton, Oldbury, Rowley Regis, West Bromwich and Wednesbury, there are 69 planned projects and fourteen further projects recently completed, worth a total of £3bn and supporting over 14,000 jobs. They all have one goal – to improve Sandwell for everyone who lives and works here.

Read the Sandwell Regeneration and Growth booklet PDF will download in a new tab

A smart place to invest

We hope that potential investors will hear the message and realise the benefits of turning to Sandwell for their future business plans.

Bring a tin: support Sandwell for the Big Help Out and Volunteers’ Week

SCVO and Sandwell Council have a simple way for people to support two national initiatives: the Big Help Out and Volunteers’ Week. They’re asking everyone to take a tin of food to their local library – it’s as easy as that!

The Big Help Out and Volunteers’ Week, in early June, are great opportunities to support our community, boost team morale, and enhance your company’s reputation.

How you can participate

This year, SCVO (Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations) has set you a straightforward challenge to celebrate both events. Between Monday 3 June and Friday 7 June, take a tin of food to your nearest library! All donations will directly benefit local food banks, which are currently experiencing high demand.

Better still, encourage your team to coordinate a collective food donation effort. This will not only foster team spirit but also create a nice photo opportunity.

Drop-off dates for tins

  • Monday 3 June to Friday 7 June, at any Sandwell library during opening hours (here are the locations and opening details).
  • Saturday 8 June, 10am – 12 noon, Haden Hill House
  • Sunday 9 June, 10am – 12 noon, West Smethwick Park (at the pavilion).

Photo opportunities

Capture your team with their donations and share the moment on social media – you can tag SCVO, Let’s Go Sandwell, Sandwell Business Growth and Sandwell Business Ambassadors and each organisation will share wherever appropriate. Use the hashtag #BringATin!

If you’d like to coordinate a photo opportunity with SCVO, contact Kim Fuller via kim@scvo.info to find out which library she will be in on which day. Kim will also be at the park events on both days with a wheely bin for your donations.

Volunteering information events

During Volunteers’ Week, Sandwell libraries will be holding events to highlight local volunteering opportunities:

  • Monday 3 June: Hamstead Library, 10am – 12 noon
  • Monday 3 June: Tipton Library, 1.30pm – 3.30pm
  • Tuesday 4 June: Cradley Heath Library, 11am – 1pm
  • Wednesday 5 June: Wednesbury Library, 9.30am – 11.30am
  • Wednesday 5 June: Oldbury Library, 3pm – 5pm
  • Friday 7 June: Thimblemill Library, 12 noon – 2pm

Litter picks

Sandwell is also hosting litter picks for the Big Help Out weekend:

  • Saturday 8 June, 10am – 12 noon: Haden Hill Park (meet in front of the House)
  • Sunday 9 June, 10am-12 noon: West Smethwick Park (meet at the pavilion).

All litter-picking equipment will be provided. You can drop off tins during those events, too. If you’re planning to attend a litter pick as a corporate team, please tell Kim Fuller via kim@scvo.info so she knows to expect you.

Let’s unite to make Sandwell proud!

About the Big Help Out and Volunteers’ Week

The Big Help Out raises awareness of volunteering throughout the UK. It provides opportunities for people to experience volunteering and make a difference in their communities.

In 2024, the Big Help Out is taking place from 7-9 June to coincide with Volunteers’ Week (3-9 June). In its 40th anniversary year, Volunteers’ Week celebrates the amazing contributions that volunteers make to communities across the UK.

Sandwell to Singapore: taking your business to the world

We’re collaborating with the UK Export Academy to help you explore your business’ export potential. Sign up for this must-attend learning event on Thursday 16 May. Let’s go global!

Imagine taking your Sandwell business out to the world. The opportunities it would open up. Come and explore your potential for global trade, and learn about support available to make it happen.

Join us and the UK Export Academy on Thursday 16 May for ‘Sandwell to Singapore’. This is a free breakfast event at the Sandwell Start-Up Hub in Oldbury.

We’ll take you on a journey to explore your export potential. Raj Theper, UK Export Academy Adviser, will explain the support available to Sandwell businesses through the Department for Business and Trade.

He will tell you how the UK Export Academy works and how its free online training will benefit your business.

Raj will be joined by an export champion to give an overview of their international journey – plus top tips on overcoming bumps in the road!

You will also be able to ask questions of our speakers, and network with other ambitious businesses.

‘Sandwell to Singapore’ takes place on Thursday 16 May from 7.30am to 9.30am at the Sandwell Start-Up Hub.

‘Sandwell to Singapore’ event agenda

  • 7.30am Breakfast
  • 8.00am Welcome from Sandwell Council
  • 8.05am Introduction to the UK Export Academy from Raj Theper – UK Export Academy Adviser
  • 8.35am Chat and Q&A session with export champion Ravi Sahota from World Wide Generation 
  • 9.00am – 9.30am Networking.

We look forward to helping you explore your global potential. See also our page on international trade for more export resources:

Young entrepreneurs on the rise: EPIC Awards

Young entrepreneurs are rising. More young people than ever are turning to running their own business – and these awards celebrate them.

​The EPIC Young Entrepreneur Awards is a platform to celebrate and recognise the achievements of young people. Especially those who have faced adversity and/or the care of a local authority, to become a startup business.

In 2022, the EPIC Awards launched, announcing eight inspirational young entrepreneurs from across the UK as winners. On the back of this success, the 2023 EPIC Awards became an even bigger event.

EPIC hopes that its 2024 Awards will be double the size again. Being held at the Burlington Hotel in central Birmingham, the event will include:

  • An entrepreneurs conference
  • Live entertainment
  • Guest speakers
  • Drinks reception and food.

What is EPIC?

EPIC is part of the Martin James Foundation, a charity set up to improve the lives of young people around the world. The founders established EPIC to support the growth of young, aspiring entrepreneurs between the ages of 16-25. It places a particular emphasis on those from disadvantaged, displaced or care backgrounds.

EPIC’s three-month programme equips young adults with the skills and knowledge to turn their dreams into reality and become their own bosses.

Since the 2022 Young Entrepreneur Awards, EPIC has seen a sharp increase in the number of new applicants to its programme. It has also seen more interest in mentoring and providing support to its growing community.

Young Entrepreneur Awards

EPIC’s Young Entrepreneur Awards are free to enter for young business owners and entrepreneurs. The awards recognise the achievements of young business owners who have faced challenges and found success. They celebrate their entrepreneurial creativity and passion.

The awards allow entrepreneurs to gain valuable support and win a £500 grant for their business in each category.

The criteria for entry include:

  • The nominee’s business must already be established and operating for at least six months
  • The founder must be aged under 25 years old.

Support the awards

Businesses can show their support for young entrepreneurs while taking the opportunity to network with other like-minded businesses at the Awards event.

Learn about sponsorship here

Find out more about the EPIC awards and register your interest here.

For more useful resources on starting your first business or growing your existing venture in Sandwell visit our young entrepreneurs page. We have details of programmes, funding, and awards to help your enterprise take flight.

Social Economy Growth Programme: apply now to grow your social enterprise

Charities, social enterprises and CICs have until Friday 3 May to apply for ‘Grow’. This scheme under the Social Economy Growth Programme offers training and grants to the social economy sector.

Aston Centre for Growth is running the Grow programme. It is fully funded and includes leadership and management training. This involves workshops, coaches, peer support to help elevate your business skills and confidence. 

You will develop strategies to boost your income, develop a supportive network and work towards creating sustainable growth in your organisation. It also offers a grant of up to £10,000 to support you to increase your trading income.

Apply by Friday 3 May

The deadline for applications is Friday 3 May. For more information about the Grow programme, and to apply, visit the website

Our first Net Zero Navigators event was a success

To support Sandwell businesses with their journey towards sustainability, we held our first ‘Net Zero Navigators’ workshop last week.

Funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, Net Zero Navigators are our special breakfast events to help Sandwell businesses start their journey towards net zero.

Our first event took place on Tuesday 16 April at the Sandwell Start-Up Hub  – our new co-working environment in Oldbury.

During the early morning session, our attendees were able to network and also explore topics that included:

  • Embracing sustainability within operational decision making
  • The work of not-for-profits in providing solar energy
  • The significant benefit of receiving a free energy audit
  • How to access funding for energy-efficiency improvement projects.

We were delighted to welcome expert speakers to deliver the workshop. Christian Byron from the Aston Centre for Growth at Aston University; Kevin Oubridge from Big Solar Co-op and Harry Long from the Black Country Industrial Cluster. Thank you to them all. 

Ben Sharpe from our Business Growth Team said: “Sustainability is a complex matter that businesses often find challenging to tackle, so we were grateful for the opportunity to connect with many Sandwell businesses and assist them on taking an important step on the journey to net zero”.

We’ll bring you news of the next session soon – watch this space!

Get your free working space at our Sandwell Start-Up Hub

Aspiring entrepreneurs and business owners can work from our new Sandwell Start-Up Hub in Oldbury.

If you have a new business (trading for less than two years) in Sandwell, you could qualify for a free working space for twelve months up to March 2025.

Sandwell Start-Up Hub, located in Jack Judge House, Oldbury, B69 2AJ, is available from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. It offers free welcoming workspaces including collaborative spaces, kitchen facilities, free WiFi, and meeting rooms for hire.

We want you to thrive and grow

Councillor Peter Hughes is Sandwell Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration and West Midlands Combined Authority. He said: “We want our local businesses to thrive and grow. It’s one of our priorities. Whether you are looking to collaborate, or you’re a new entrepreneur seeking resources, we want this hub to be your gateway to success.”

You may also be able to get additional expert guidance and resources via the Sandwell Enterprise Programme.

Get to know Jericho

Jericho operates seven social enterprises to support people who face challenges in getting a job. It is holding a networking lunch and tour on Thursday 2 May.

We have updated this listing to reflect changes in venue and arrangements for this event.

Jericho says its seven social enterprises across Birmingham “provide work opportunities and individualised support for people who face real and significant challenges in getting a job”.

“These could include trauma, insufficient work experience, health and wellbeing needs, education barriers and communication challenges”.

On Thursday 2 May, at Jericho’s headquarters in Birmingham, there will be an informal networking lunch (between 1pm and 2pm). Then a trip to Jericho’s Sutton Coldfield businesses, The ReUsers and The Wood Shack. Jericho aims to have you back for approximately 4.15pm.

You are welcome to join Jericho for lunch, the tour, or both!

If you had booked for the original event at Edgbaston Golf Club, please let Jericho know if you wish to attend this one. The team will not automatically transfer your booking.

If you hadn’t booked onto the original event and would like to attend on Thursday 2 May, please email katie.webb@jericho.org.uk.

If take-up exceeds capacity, Jericho will run the event again in June.

Sandwell is 50: share your stories

Share your stories of Sandwell to celebrate the 50th anniversary of our borough.

In 1974 our six towns of Sandwell – Oldbury, Rowley Regis, Smethwick, Tipton, Wednesbury and West Bromwich – were brought together under our current boundaries. As you know, a lot has happened in the half century since.

To celebrate the occasion, Sandwell Council is appealing for residents to share their memories of Sandwell. The Sandwell Business Growth team is encouraging businesses and organisations to do the same. We’d love to hear your stories of workplace successes, events and characters from the last 50 years.

Share your Sandwell stories with the world

We also welcome photos and videos. It’s great to see how Sandwell has, or hasn’t, changed over the years. Sandwell Council will feature some of the most notable contributions on its social media channels, on its website and in a special article in the Sandwell Herald. And we may well share your business stories here on the Sandwell Business Growth website.

If you have something special you’d like to share, get in touch. Let’s showcase half a century of significant and surprising Sandwell stories.

Share your Sandwell stories

Email the team

The West Midlands is also 50 this year! Head over to the Sandwell Business Ambassadors’ website to learn about a ’50forWM’ campaign, to honour inspirational volunteers.

New trees for a greener Sandwell

Sandwell Council is marking the completion of the first stage of a series of tree planting projects.

The council has committed to making the borough a greener and more welcoming place. As part of this drive it is undertaking a series of tree planting projects. So far, it has planted 1,000 trees and 300 shrubs at Yew Tree and Painswick Close open spaces.

The site was chosen for planting following discussions with the local community. The West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) funded the site along with the Woodland Trust as part of its MoreWoods Project.

This initiative is the first of a series of tree planting projects taking place across the region.

This phase of the project has been coordinated with the WMCA through the Virtual Forest initiative. Since 2020, almost 600,000 newly planted trees have been registered by residents, businesses and local authorities.

Green and pleasant borough

Councillor Charn Singh Padda, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for leisure and tourism, said:

 “This project shows how important it is for us as a council to ensure that Sandwell is a green and pleasant borough in which to live and to visit. I look forward to seeing more and more projects such as this throughout the borough.”


Councillor Peter Hughes, Sandwell Council’s cabinet member for regeneration and WMCA, said:

“Sometimes people may think of regeneration as being solely about projects such as large construction sites but this kind of project is also vital. It ensures that Sandwell and the West Midlands are places in which people want to do business.”

Greener future

Ben Green, Woodland Trust external affairs officer, added:

“It’s inspiring to see the first phase of these tree planting projects underway with 100% UK and Ireland sourced and grown native trees. These efforts, in coordination with the Woodland Trust and West Midlands Combined Authority, reflect our shared commitment to a more vibrant, sustainable community. By prioritising locally-sourced trees, we’re not only enhancing our landscapes but also safeguarding against harmful pest and disease importation. Together, we’re shaping a greener, healthier future for all.”

To read more about what makes Sandwell great visit our social value page.

Find out more about the MoreWoods Project on the Woodland Trust website.

Could you be a school governor?

Sandwell Council has launched a campaign to encourage local people to join school governing bodies. Here’s why being a school governor is valuable for you and your business.

Over a quarter of a million people volunteer to govern our schools in England. Their work, while often going unnoticed, has significant benefits for children and young people. It can also be a very rewarding experience for governors themselves – and the organisations they work for.

That’s why Sandwell Council is launching a campaign to encourage more local people onto school governing bodies.

What do school governors do?

Every school has a governing body of volunteers – ‘governors’ – who use their unique community knowledge, life experience and skills to make the school the best it can be. 

Although governors aren’t involved in the day-to-day running of a school, governing bodies meet regularly to set long-term goals, monitor progress and decide how budget is spent. They oversee policies, including those which protect the safety and wellbeing of staff and students.    

Who can be a governor?

You don’t need specific qualifications to govern at a school. It’s also a common misconception that you need to be a teacher, a parent, or have a background in education. Governing bodies need people from a range of professional backgrounds. They seek people with experience in disciplines such as strategic planning, finance, people management and health and safety – to name but a few.

In fact, the experience and skills needed to be part of a successful business are also vital in school governing bodies. That’s why Sandwell Council is reaching out to our business community for potential volunteers.

Responsibilities, training and commitment

As a governor, you would always have an induction and ongoing training, ensuring you understand your role and responsibilities and how to fulfil them. Governing bodies are collectively responsible for their decisions, so you would have individual liability only in limited circumstances. 

The time commitment for being a governor varies for each school. As a guide, it may start from around twenty hours in a year, with meetings roughly every other month – occasionally some in between. Meetings tend to take place in the evenings, so as many people as possible can attend. Sometimes, you may be able to attend remotely.

Why governing is good for business

Encouraging your staff to volunteer as governors is a great way of raising your business’ profile in the community, and showing social value.

Also, the skills that your employees will develop through being school governors can be brought back into the workplace. Through school governing, staff at all levels can experience what it is like to serve on a board that analyses, debates and makes decisions linked to improvement plans, financial strategy, performance management, infrastructure projects and partnership working.

So if you are committed to developing people and improving performance, having school governors among your workforce is an excellent business move.

‘Best CPD I have ever undertaken’

Steve Edmonds is from Sandwell Council’s Leader and Cabinet office. He and his team are keen to get local businesses to encourage more volunteer governors into Sandwell schools.

“People like me, who serve as governors, find the experience incredibly rewarding and gain fulfilment from using their skills and experience to support schools and communities, whilst at the same time contributing their ongoing development,” said Steve. “I can honestly say that carrying out my duties as a school governor is the best CPD I have ever undertaken”.

Meanwhile, Brian Cape is a Sandwell Business Ambassador and the CEO of SIPS Education. His Sandwell not-for-profit organisation is also promoting the benefits of being a school governor.

Brian said: “People with business skills are a real asset on school governance boards. It’s also an important part of community life that employers and business owners can support as part of their corporate social responsibility. Plus governors can play a part in developing future talent. Business and education have a lot to offer each other.”

Want to know more?

There are vacancies for school governors across Sandwell. To put yourself forward as a governor, you can complete an online application form, which Sandwell Council will use to match you to a suitable vacancy:

EmpowerHER: A Celebration of Women’s Leadership in the West Midlands

Calling all champions of women’s empowerment! EmpowerHER is an evening dedicated to acknowledging the remarkable achievements of female leaders in the West Midlands region.

Join Business Growth West Midlands (BGWM) for EmpowerHER, a special event to celebrate success, build connections, and inspire the leaders of the future.

The evening event takes place on Tuesday 19 March at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, Birmingham.

BGWM says this isn’t just any gathering. It’s a chance to honour the amazing accomplishments
of female leaders in the West Midlands, while making meaningful connections and finding inspiration for your own leadership journey.

Hear from Laura Shoaf, Chief Executive of the West Midlands Combined Authority, as she shares her experiences, successes and strategies for overcoming obstacles in leadership.

Hear stories and get business opportunities

You can hear stories from other female leaders in the West Midlands. Learn from their experiences, the hurdles they’ve faced, and the moments that have defined their journeys.

Discover opportunities with Business Growth West Midlands (BGWM) Business Support Programmes to help you reach your goals.

Have a buffet dinner while networking with fellow attendees.

This event is FREE to attend for businesses in the West Midlands region. The UK Shared Prosperity Fund has funded it. Business Growth West Midlands is the host.

There are limited spaces. Register now to secure your space.

Come to our Sandwell ‘meet the buyer’ networking events

Sandwell Council has partnered with Constructing West Midlands and the Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust to host two ‘meet the buyer’ networking events in March.

The first meet the buyer event takes place on Wednesday 6 March [now fully booked]. This is followed by the second event on Tuesday 19 March. Both events are being held at West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Wednesday 6 March: Constructing West Midlands [fully booked]

The first event offers the opportunity to connect with top contractors and construction industry decision-makers. You can talk to representatives from local authorities and housing associations, as well as contractors from the Constructing West Midlands framework:

  • Galliford Try
  • GF Tomlinson
  • Interclass
  • ISG
  • Morgan Sindall
  • Seddon
  • Spellar Metcalfe
  • Willmott Dixon.

There will be presentations on opportunities stemming from major projects – including in Sandwell’s Regeneration Pipeline.

Attendees will also be able to hear presentations on where to find business opportunities and how to register for them. As well as the benefits of community wealth building, social value and sustainability, plus tender-writing tips.

After the presentations you’ll have time to network over lunch.

For more information about Constructing West Midlands visit the website.

Tuesday 19 March: Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust

At the second meet the buyer event on Tuesday 19 March you can talk to procurement representatives from the NHS, local authorities, housing associations and more.

The event will focus on upcoming opportunities such as the Learning Campus in Smethwick and other major projects. During the day you will have the opportunity to talk to buyers and procurement teams. 

After the presentations you can network over lunch.

Get more information about Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS.

More information about both events

At both events you will have the opportunity to meet exhibitors to talk about:

  • Recruitment and training with the Think Sandwell employment and skills team
  • Business opportunities from Find It In The Black Country
  • Digital inclusion
  • Inclusion and ‘giving back’ with the Care Leaver Covenant
  • Shaping the workforce of the future
  • The green agenda and net zero support.

Why are we holding these events?

When Sandwell businesses thrive, they create jobs, raise aspirations, boost skills and generate wealth for our local economy. You’re Sandwell’s lifeblood – and so we want to champion your business at every stage. Getting you face to face with influential buyers and decision makers is just one of our many ways to help.

Social Enterprise Boost Fund from Access to Business

Access to Business is working with iSE to deliver the West Midlands Social Enterprise Boost Fund in Wolverhampton and Sandwell. This initiative aims to kick start and accelerate social enterprise activity across the region.

The SEB Fund runs until March 2025 and offers a range of grants and targeted business support. Its aim is to help new and existing social enterprises start up, scale up and grow. Organisers will also collect and share evidence on the impact of social enterprises on communities in the local area.

Are you eligible for a Social Enterprise Boost?

You need to be a Wolverhampton or Sandwell resident to apply to the Social Enterprise Boost Fund. You have to be thinking about starting a business, or have an existing business that is less than five years old, with an annual turnover under £250K. 

Your business doesn’t have to be officially registered as a community interest company (CIC) for you to apply to the fund. A wide variety of social businesses are eligible.

What does the fund offer?

New social entrepreneurs can attend a series of FUSE Start Up courses over the next two years, plus CIC Start sessions to help you register your new enterprise. Owners of more established businesses can attend a series of social enterprise MOT programmes. These cover topics such as contract readiness, social impact and managing people.

The fund will also provide one-to-one business support and networking, tailored to your specific needs. All recipients of business support will also be able to apply for a range of grant funding, up to a maximum of £10K.

Learn more about the Social Enterprise Boost Fund at the A2B website.

Brum Rocks: Sandwell business event

Misfits Music Foundation is holding a business networking evening at Thimblemill Library on Thursday 21 March. There, you can learn about its Brum Rocks project.

Misfits Music Foundation is a local charity that holds community music activities for wellbeing in Birmingham and Sandwell. 

This year, the Misfits team is running a huge project called Brum Rocks. They are holding workshops across Birmingham and Sandwell, for adults who sing or play any instrument. These workshops will culminate in a Rock Extravaganza Finale Event in July 2024, with hundreds of people coming to sing and play together in Birmingham city centre.

To tell local businesses about Brum Rocks, Misfits invites you to a business networking evening on Thursday 21 March (7-9pm). Learn about sponsorship and volunteering opportunities, for an event that is likely to achieve a great deal of media coverage.

Brum Rocks logo in a plectrum shape

Over a glass of wine or soft drink and samosa, you’ll get to see a Brum Rocks workshop in action. This is thanks to members of Misfits’ Bearwood Rock Collective. You will also have time to network with people from other Sandwell-based businesses.

Send a message to rosie@misfitsmusic.org.uk if you’d like to attend. Tell her you heard about this event on the Sandwell Business Growth website.

National Apprenticeship Week 2024: two Sandwell success stories

For National Apprenticeship Week 2024, we share two stories about successful apprentices in Sandwell: Callum in carpentry and Paige in plastering!

National Apprenticeship Week 2024 takes place between Monday 5 and Sunday 11 February. It’s a chance to celebrate apprentices, their achievements, and the positive impact they make on communities, businesses and the wider economy.

Sandwell Council recommends apprenticeships to local businesses as a way of investing in the future. You can train an employee to have the skills that are exactly right for your industry, in a cost-effective way. In the meantime, you are fostering a culture of development and learning in your workplace.

A social value commitment

So we also recognise apprenticeships as a social value commitment: a way to give back to Sandwell and its people.

Therefore, we have been very glad to hear about the progress of local resident Callum Farmer. Callum started with a trainee multi-trade position with building contractors E Manton, which led to an apprenticeship with Sandwell Council.

E Manton was the principal contractor working to expand the Ron Davis Centre in Smethwick. This is a learning hub run by Sandwell Adult and Family Learning Service (SAFL).

Funded by the Towns Fund, the £360k development added two new specialised digital classrooms to the Ron Davis Centre. It boosted the range of services that SAFL can offer.

The work enabled Callum to invest in tools and start saving for a car. Its varied nature – and further work with E. Manton – also allowed him to decide which area of the building trade suited him best.

Now Callum has gone on to do a carpentry apprenticeship with Sandwell Council’s Neighbourhoods Team. We hear that he is doing very well.

“I wanted to know how to get into a trade”

We’re also glad to hear about Paige, who is doing a three-year plastering apprenticeship.

Paige’s original plan was to work in the beauty industry. She had done a training course in beauty. She was also having one-to-one sessions with a mentor, who was helping her to find courses and look for suitable vacancies. The mentor was from Think Sandwell. This is Sandwell Council’s Employment and Skills Team, which helps local people into work and supports local employers to fill job and skills gaps in their workforce.

Paige’s career path took a change in direction, however, when her mum was having building work done on her home and struggling to find people to carry out work.

 “I realised that there was lots of work available and wanted to know how to get into a trade”, said Paige.

Responding to Paige’s change of heart, the Think Sandwell mentor arranged for Paige to do a construction overview course. This included training for a Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) card. Carrying this card gives proof that an individual working on a construction site has the required training and qualifications for the type of work they carry out.

Paige got her CSCS card, and along the way, learned that she enjoyed plastering the most.

With support from Think Sandwell, Paige applied for relevant work experience placements. Soon, drywalling specialists DCL offered her an opportunity to work with them on the Windsor Olympus Academy site in Smethwick.

As a result of her strong work experience performance, DCL offered Paige a three-year plastering apprenticeship. She started it in April 2023.

Learning a skilled trade

Scott Joynes is a project manager at DCL. He said: “It’s nice to see younger age groups having an interest in learning a skilled trade. Having Paige on site has been a breath of fresh air, she certainly keeps us all on our toes. I started as an apprentice myself when I was sixteen and it’s great to see the support networks that are in place to support apprentices now.”

John Jacznik, director at DCL, said: “It’s refreshing to have someone with that enthusiasm on site. Her character and spirit will make her into a great asset. The support from Think Sandwell in finding an apprentice and setting up the apprenticeship has been a great example of partnership working”.

Learn more about apprenticeships in Sandwell – and read more social value stories.