In 2012, a charismatic former music industry executive named Kevin Osborne came to see Patrick McKenna, Founder of Ingenious, about an idea he had developed for establishing a new business and talent incubator with a particular focus on the BAME community. Kevin had previously run an award winning enterprise called Tribal Tree in north London from 2000 to 2007. This local authority supported project had provided music industry related training and skills classes and, most importantly, a safe and supportive playing and learning environment for hundreds of participants, helping artists like Plan B and N-Dubz to launch their careers and achieve number one hit records.
With his MeWe360 partner, Ameet Shah, an experienced entrepreneur and telecoms executive, who at the time was head of strategy at BT, Kevin proposed to set up a new social enterprise venture with a greater focus on identifying and incubating untapped creative business talent from the BAME community. He had secured some funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation and conditional funding from Arts Council England (ACE). The ACE money was, however, to be conditional on MeWe’s being able to find matching private sector support. That’s where Ingenious came in.
Over the course of the next few months Kevin and Ameet met on numerous occasions with Ingenious’ Patrick, Duncan Reid and Martin Smith, together with ACE, to work up an agreed business plan. Ingenious committed £100,000 plus a large amount of additional in-kind help, ranging from office accommodation to free consultancy. This was to be a unique public/private partnership – part philanthropic but commercially framed – and was highly innovative for the time.
MeWe has gone on to achieve considerable success in helping its members to establish and fund new businesses, mainly (but not exclusively) BAME led. It has provided desk space for countless aspiring entrepreneurs and organised scores of music and business development events for its members and supporters.
Kevin has recently written an account of his personal journey as a Black entrepreneur in an article for the Clore Leadership Programme, a government supported leadership development programme. Amongst other things this piece is highly topical in the age of Black Lives Matter.
Ingenious commercial director Duncan Reid stepped down from the MeWe board last year after serving a seven year term. Martin Smith acted as policy and PR adviser throughout this time, linking MeWe into the Ingenious network of contacts in business and academia.
We are proud of the role that Ingenious has been able to play, initially in getting MeWe off the ground and subsequently helping it on its challenging route to significant achievement and social impact. This achievement is now celebrated each year through the Deutsche Bank Creative Enterprise Awards (DBACE), which are administered and promoted by MeWe for the Bank. More information can be found here.
Further information about MeWe can be obtained from Martin Smith; firstname.lastname@example.org