Government unveils its entrepreneurs in residence to advise on SME issues

Rekha Mehr and Lawrence Tomlinson are set to become entrepreneurs in residence for the government and provide advice to business secretary Vince Cable.

Having been whittled down from 200 applicants, two entrepreneurs have been selected to serve as advisers to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

Leeds-based entrepreneur Lawrence Tomlinson has run companies in sectors including construction, software and cars while fellow new adviser Rekha Mehr is the founder and owner of Pistachio Rose, a London-based creator of Anglo-Indian cakes and sweets.

Tomlinson was awarded Overall Director by the Institute of Directors in 2012 and will be focusing on access to finance and improving bank lending.

The entrepreneur bought a single care home from his parents in 1988. He then developed the location into Orchard Care Homes before selling it in 2007 for £180 million.

He comments, ‘I’m thrilled to be joining BIS and I’m eager to get straight to work and support the department’s efforts to address the issues businesses are facing on the ground.’

Mehr has been charged with being a voice for start-ups and small firms, using her experience of working as a buyer with Waitrose and Amazon before setting up Pistachio Rose in February 2012.

She adds, ‘It’s easy to forget the early days and frustrations of starting your own business and I welcome the opportunity to share my experiences to help government improve their understanding of the needs of a start-up business.

‘There is a wealth of guidance and support available for SMEs which can be critical to their success in the early stages and I look forward to working with ministers in the coming months to raise awareness of this and contribute to ideas for future initiatives.’

The process to find two entrepreneurs in residence was kicked off at Global Entrepreneurs’ Week in November 2012. Under the framework of the initiative, the entrepreneurs will be office holders (not employees) and will take away a £10,000 per annum honorarium for one days work per week.

Business secretary Vince Cable, who will be receiving advice from Tomlinson and Mehr, says, ‘These appointments are about better involving businesses in government’s decision-making process, so that we can support their growth in a more intelligent way.

‘Rekha and Lawrence will be important voices for businesses in my department. Having them on hand to offer feedback and advice will be a significant asset and help keep our focus firmly on the needs of entrepreneurs.’

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

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