Tag Archives: Sue Fry

Aardvark Marketing Consultants | MRE provide retail therapy for third sector

MRE provide retail therapy for third sector

MRE provide retail therapy for third sector

Midwest Rural Enterprise (MRE), specialists in providing management support and training for third sector organisations, have launch of a new service to improve income streams from retailing for charities and third sector organisations.

Sue Fry, Director at MRE says “Local charities are seeing an increase in demand for their services at a time when the overall economic climate is becoming harder. The traditional ways of funding for charities, including winning tenders for providing local authority services, is becoming increasingly difficult and so many charities are having to dip into their reserves to continue to provide their much-needed services.”

“MRE directors and associates act as ‘critical friends’ for our customers “says Gill Hutchinson, a co-director “ We are very experienced in helping these organisations develop by  thinking about the wider opportunities for fundraising, which can include charging for some services, traditional fundraising and income generated from charity shops. Working with MRE and using the latest ideas, techniques and methodologies provides sustainable growth across the organisation. Our ethos  to provide personal and professional development for all the staff means they grow in confidence as a result”.

As a not for profit organisation itself, the directors at MRE are very aware of the challenges in this sector and so we have expanded to provide help to increase returns from existing retail outlets or to start retailing for the first time. Jim Smith at the Worcester Association of Carers recommends a retail review as a first step, “MRE’s Retail Review has been invaluable to our commercial ambitions with their prompt and detailed report of key issues, observations and recommendations, all achieved with diplomacy and professionalism”. These reviews dovetail well with our existing provision of evaluation of charitable projects, helping charities prove design and implement systems that calculate their social return on investment and our overall business advice

Charity CEO’s and Trustees are welcome to contact MRE for a confidential discussion, simply contact Gill Hutchinson or  email Sue Fry on suef@unlocking-enterprise.org.uk


About MRE

MRE Unlocking Enterprise is a community interest company offering ethical businesses across sectors support, advice, development and practical services in starting, running and building their business.

We have a happy and diverse team who bring a vast range of skills and experience and enjoy working with each other and our clients to make things work more effectively, Working across the West Midlands the range of our work and experience and observations of seeing how others work brings a rich resource to our clients.

Our vision is a society in which there is a strong social enterprise community, based on genuine, ethical principles.

We work towards our vision by creating a supportive network of social enterprises in Hereford, Worcester, Shropshire and the West Midlands, which can be replicated across the UK, by:-

Acting as a source of expert enterprise knowledge and experience to ethical organisations across the sectors

Providing high quality enterprise advice and support at every stage of the business process

Training, coaching and mentoring ethical organisations and individuals to the highest standards

Offering ‘back-room’ services to assist with the day-to-day running of social businesses

Providing initial consultations and mentoring sessions to ethical organisations on a pro-bono basis

Acting as the voice of ethical, social and community organisations at a national and local level.

We offer innovative and flexible support tailored to your business goals and community of interest.

We work with you at individual stages or throughout the life of your business, whenever you need us. We’re all experienced in business – so we know how to help.

MRE Unlocking Enterprise is a trading style of Midwest Rural Enterprise CIC Registered Office:   Midwest Rural Enterprise CIC, 34 Redcliffe Street, Worcester WR3 7AP. Registered in England and Wales No. 5943502

Aardvark Marketing | Group mentoring

Group Mentoring – what’s so great about it?

Group Mentoring – what’s so great about it?

I wonder how many of you have experienced group mentoring.  Does it sound a bit fluffy and unfocused?  Not in my experience!
I am a great believer in this way of supporting, particularly women in enterprise, in this way.  I have been using and facilitating Action Learning, as it is sometimes known, with a variety of organisations and individuals for at least 5 years and have seen individuals find “penny dropping moments” which help them sidestep their barriers, and find new ways of solving their problems and blocks in an environment where long term support develops and trusted allies are identified.

It works best when you can hold a regular series of meetings in which a small group get to know and trust each other, as they bring forward issues in a safe environment and gain help from their peers to see outside the “box”.  This might be a group of people who want to work collaboratively, or who are individuals undergoing similar growth or start up issues like those that the Women2Web and WiRE members face on a regular basis.  Each member of the group brings an issue or topic which they are grappling with, but don’t have the whole solution too.  The rest of the group ask questions to develop clarity around the issue, which often helps those involved to see where there might be solutions, or that they have not thought through the range of options that might be open to them.

We have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the Women2Web programme where group mentoring has been available at no cost to those attending, and we have followed this up with developing and holding a series of Masterclasses for women entrepreneurs which contains elements of group mentoring alongside some expert training, and one to one business advice.  The focus on an area of your business, the peer support of likeminded women, and the confidence building that develops is very encouraging to see.

We often don’t prioritise time working on our businesses, as we are often too busy trying to generate new customers, delivering services or products, marketing, doing the invoices etc.  We lose our objectivity, and feel swamped by all that we have to do.  Go on – try group mentoring and see how this makes a difference to your clarity, focus, and how you drive your businesses on to be evermore successful.


Sue Fry is a director of MRE,a community interest company (CIC) offering ethical business support, advice, development and practical services in starting, running and building their business. Gill Hutchinson is an Associate of MRE and involved in delivering the Women2Web and MRE Masterclasses.
Sue is our guest blogger for June