IOEE Academy inspiring young people into employment in the heart of Bristol

CCBED is the Centre for Capacity Building & Enterprise Development; a Bristol-based social enterprise that focuses on helping to tackle unemployment and underemployment in  people aged 19 and above in disadvantaged local communities. Originally a SFEDI Awards Centre, CCBED has recently gained its IOEE Enterprise Academy status. This month we met Aliu Bello, its founder and Managing Director, to discuss the importance of community engagement, mentoring for start-up businesses, and how the organisation is supporting diversity in the heart of the city.

CCBED has a vision; to create a world where there is equal opportunity for all to discover their hidden talents and achieve economic self-reliance. Having celebrated its transition to IOEE Academy last month, it was back in 2013 when Aliu first found his inspiration:

“A survey was conducted by the African Caribbean Chambers of Commerce on behalf CCBED. One of the key findings was that people around this community prefer self-employment and enterprise as a way of getting back to work, and this inspired me to apply for SFEDI Award Accreditation in 2014; to deliver enterprise and employability qualifications within Bristol.”

Aliu has a background in vocational education, having spent most of his career working as an International Civil Servant with UNICEF. Based at St. Paul’s Learning Centre, CCBED offers a variety of support to young people who are not following a traditional academic path, and Aliu says it’s his passion to see enterprise as a means of getting back to work, and to know  CCBED is making a difference:

“Following an academic route isn’t for everybody; it’s not always the right way for somebody to reach their full potential. We can offer young people the opportunity to develop their potential through learning vocational skills and gaining qualifications, which will help them to rise to the top and be the best that they can be.”

When CCBED first opened its doors, it was working with younger teenagers of around the age of 15, but today it focuses on young people aged 19 and above. Aliu says:

“We realised that there was a gap in the market for supporting this age group – and as a result, this is where we would be able to make the biggest difference. Looking at adults aged over 19 in Ashley, Easton and Lawrence Hill, our learner cohorts to date show that 90% are unemployed. This is where we can make real impact.”

This impact is evident in CCBED’s results from the last two years. After completing SFEDI qualifications, 40% of learners have gone on to full-time employment, 15% have gone on to university, and a further 15% are in volunteering positions whilst being supported and mentored towards securing a job or starting their own business.

Last month, CCBED held a belated launch event to celebrate their success so far:

“Since we began in 2014 it’s been a whirlwind, so in many ways, this event was a late launch party! It was a chance for us to become more well-known in the local community and meet potential learners and partners, but it was just as important to be a celebration of our journey.

It’s so important to celebrate your successes too, and for the learners to get a real sense of achievement. Many have just completed their Level 1 and Level 2 Awards in Enterprising Skills and Employability, and they were presented with certificates from the Deputy Mayor, Asher Craig.  It was a chance to reflect on the last couple of years and to look forward to the next couple – but it was also about saying ‘well done!’”

Aliu says that CCBED is also proud to be tackling inequalities and breaking down barriers to equal opportunities in the city-centre Bristol communities:

“Because of our location, we have seen a lot of people from black and minority ethnic groups – 80% of our learners have come from that group. The fact that we’re able to contribute to the economic development of these communities and to the diversity rating within Bristol – that is a huge achievement.”

Aliu says that not only is he proud of gaining IOEE Enterprise Academy status, but that this status will enable CCBED to develop further moving forward and reach organisations such as local colleges, the SFA (Skills Funding Agency), Corporates and Business West.

“The status sets us apart and gives us credibility, and this new status will show people that our enterprise offering is more robust, which will help us to maximise our market penetration and reach organisations where we are able to work with them in partnership, and enhance our delivery within the community.

We also want to develop the professional mentoring side of our organisation, the practical support and business advice you need when setting up a company on your own, and our new IOEE Academy status will also be able to help us do that.”