Time’s ticking for SMEs to apply for funding and mentoring scheme

It’s the final countdown for SMEs hoping to be mentored by a trio of inspiring entrepreneurs – and to receive funding to support them to build their businesses.

Applications to the new fund – launched by small business support platform Enterprise Nation and social media giant TikTok – opened last month and close on the 14 September.

The scheme is open to value-driven businesses that excel – either in entrepreneurship, customer trust or being community-centred.

Enterprise Nation, which supports over three-quarters of a million startups, early-stage and small businesses every year, has pledged to deliver three £5,000 grants, 12 months of one-to-one mentoring with an expert entrepreneur plus a bundle of targeted resources worth thousands of pounds.

The mentors include Mike Turner, Co-Founder and Director of Bird & Blend Tea Co, who is excited to be mentoring the trusted category. He says: "Helping to support the next generation of purpose-driven businesses is a passion of mine. Over the past 11 years, we've taken Bird & Blend Tea Co. from a market stall and packing orders in a back bedroom, to 15 stores (and counting!) across the UK and just over 160 employees.

“We know how challenging it can be to navigate the hurdles that are thrown at you - finding an affordable route to investment, constant regulation changes, planning obstacles, recruitment and training enough high calibre staff. Staying true to your values whilst maintaining a healthy, profitable business takes courage.

The other mentors are Emma Jones CBE, Founder of Enterprise Nation, who will be mentoring the winner of the community-led category, and Timothy Armoo, Co-Founder of social media and influencer agency Fanbytes, who will be mentoring the winner of the entrepreneurial category.

TikTok will also provide access to ads specialists in its London office who will provide guidance on building brand presence and driving sales on the platform.

Emma Jones said: “We truly believe in the power of entrepreneurial spirit, trust and community, these are the qualities that best reflect our values and we want to celebrate and reward businesses that share that vision.

“By launching our own fund with TikTok, we hope to create a legacy that will help the next generation of businesses to collaborate and support each other in innovative ways – and we’d encourage SMEs to apply today as there really isn’t long left before the deadline.”

Lisa Freidrich, TikTok SMB leader in EMEA said:  "We’re delighted to support the Enterprise Nation Fund and hope it will inspire a wealth of passion, creativity and innovation in the small business community.”

A shortlist of 30 successful entrepreneurs, 10 in each category will then go to the public vote with finalists going forward to judging. The winner is due to be announced in October.

The three winners will receive:

  • A £5,000 grant
  • Monthly mentoring sessions for 12 months with an experienced entrepreneur who will guide and support business growth
  • Meeting with a dedicated TikTok ads specialist for a tailored media plan to get a business started on TikTok at TikTok's London Office
  • £500 credits to spend on VistaPrint.co.uk
  • Santander Navigator 'Prepare' package, worth £1,800 of international growth support.
  • 12-month Adobe Creative Cloud All Apps membership, worth £596.