Business in the Community (BITC) and its mentoring initiative Mosaic is one of the main focuses of the corporate social responsibility programme of my law firm, Shakespeare Martineau LLP.
We support Mosaic and Business in the Community in a number of ways, including being paired with a local Birmingham school, Handsworth Wood Girls Academy (HWGA), offering and helping them with work experience, skills workshops and mentoring.
For the last three years I have taken part in the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge competition with HWGA. This is a well-structured, smoothly run, relevant and engaging business game for children around GCSE age.
The Challenge consists of the following:
- an introduction to key business principles and concepts, such as, gross and net profit, stakeholders, and methods to market and sell products
- a session and questionnaire on how to be an ethical and responsible business
- playing a business simulation game to put these concepts into context. During this game groups of students run a business, choosing their own product, its features and specifications, marketing and sales strategy, and monitoring the market competition, product progress and sales and other figures to alter business strategy accordingly. The aim of the game is to make as much net profit in a set trading period.
This Enterprise Challenge is rewarding for both the mentors and the students taking part and I would highly recommend it to everyone. Six words I would say about the Challenge to encourage others to become mentors would be:
- Motivating: I have never seen children so motivated by a learning challenge, especially when often it can be difficult to hold their attention. Interactive and focussed sessions coupled with the business simulation game are a winning combination and really make learning and implementing the key business principles engaging and fun. The competitive element of the game also makes the children strive to do better each time.
- Organised: During a busy work life, it can often be difficult to see how you can fit a mentoring scheme like this in. However, BiTC make it really easy, with a well organised and structured Challenge that you can pick up and implement straight away. Course books are provided with clear content to be covered and sessions mapped out, and mentor books given covering key mentoring tips, skills and suggestions on teaching methods.
- Self-esteem: Many children taking part in this Challenge are from disadvantaged backgrounds and have not had the encouragement or confidence to be creative, work as part of a group, speak their mind or aspire to better themselves. The Challenge gives these children the opportunity to do this in a safe learning environment and it is amazing to see them grow in confidence, abilities, and aspiration throughout the learning sessions as they realise they do have key skills they can use in the future.
- Adaptable: Although the Challenge is well structured and the content set out, you can be as creative with the teaching methods as you like, introducing your own ice breaker sessions, games, and examples to help get the content across, really making your sessions your own.
- Informative: This Challenge is dual purpose, so that the mentors, as well as the children, learn and develop throughout the Challenge. Mentors are trained in key mentoring skills, methods and processes before beginning to help them offer the best guidance for the children, and they also develop their softer skills delivering the mentoring sessions, not to mention brushing up on their business skills. I have found that these skills have come in handy during real life work scenarios.
- Collaborative: This Challenge breeds collaborative and cohesive working, amongst all involved, highlighting at all times the importance of understanding others and working together to create something successful, whether that be a Challenge, learning environment or a business.