Skills, thrills and personal development: how a mentor helped Well Grounded flourish

Skills, thrills and personal development: how a mentor helped Well Grounded flourish

As part of our Skills, thrills and personal development series we take an in-depth look at a successful mentoring relationship from our Hackney Connect Programme. For more about mentoring read part one and part two. 

Eve Wagg is passionate about coffee - so much so that she started a social venture with coffee at the heart of it. Well Grounded is London’s first social enterprise solely focused on developing talent within the speciality coffee industry. Through it, Eve aims to give people a chance to work in an industry she loves. She’s on a mission to channel hundreds of the capital’s youngsters into employment as Speciality Baristas, regardless of their background. With no funding and no support, Eve embarked on her journey to become a social entrepreneur - developing the idea for her business and networks that would help her start up. In ‘2015’ she successfully applied for a Hackney Connect Do It Award. Hackney Connect is a collaboration between UBS and UnLtd, helping develop the skills, aspirations and confidence of young, unemployed people aged 18-30 in Hackney. Successful Award winners got up to £10,000, alongside tailored support, to start-up and grow their own social venture. Eve used this support to get Well Grounded up and running, piloting her employment scheme. While things were going well she realised that she didn’t have the range of skills she needed. Working alone as a social entrepreneur means capacity and resources are tight, she needed support and an expert pair of eyes, to help her plan strategically for the future. Eve is a mentor herself, to the trainees at Well Grounded

Finding a mentor

With UnLtd’s help, an introduction was made to Nigel, UK & Investment Bank Chief Financial Officer at UBS, who began working with Eve as her mentor. Nigel agreed to mentor Eve as part of UBS's Community Affairs programme of which employee volunteering – harnessing employees' skills to support the development of individuals and enterprises in the local community - is a key component. ‘Nigel has added so much value to Well Grounded and to me personally,’ Eve explained, ‘He has provided guidance and support with my mission statement, outcome framework, and business planning. Nigel has helped to build my confidence and I am genuinely grateful for his commitment to me and Well Grounded. He is a great sounding board and a great listener.’ Nigel also gained a lot from the Mentoring Relationship. ‘I was hugely impressed by the vision, track record and the win-win business concept of Well Grounded. Prior to meeting Eve, I didn’t know anything about the coffee industry. I have had my eyes opened to what else is out there. It’s been a joyful experience.’ Eve has some advice for other social entrepreneurs considering Mentoring Support. ‘As a mentee, you feel you want to provide your Mentor with a great experience. It is extremely important that you spend time at the beginning of the relationship getting to know each other and manage each other’s expectations. Be open, transparent and clear about what you both want to get out of the relationship. Keep checking in to be sure you’re sticking to those goals.’ For Mentors, Nigel explains, “It is surprising how much value you can add by simply being there, listening and reflecting on what you hear. Don’t try and be a Superhero, you are a sounding board. The biggest challenge for me has been not to jump in with the solutions and to allow Eve the time and space to think things through. I would definitely encourage others to consider being a Mentor. It has been one of the most rewarding things that I have ever done.’ Eve and Nigel are continuing to work together and will work on the business strategy for Well Grounded going forward.

A trainee learns to make coffee

The benefits of having a mentor

In a recent evaluation report of UnLtd’s Mentoring and Pro Bono activity carried out by Renaisi, 72% of Social Entrepreneurs who accessed Mentoring and Pro Bono support significantly improved their skills in Business Planning compared to 60% who were not accessing the same support. In the same report, volunteers felt a sense of personal satisfaction from supporting others. Volunteering also had an impact on their relational skills improving ways to communicate, coaching and mentoring skills and supporting people to come up with their own conclusions. Find out more about UnLtd's Mentoring and Pro Bono Programme. We are looking for new Corporates and Mentors to support our work at UnLtd in London and the Midlands. Register your interest in being involved, please email:

*Based upon 2012 Small Business Survey, 2013

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