The Equinox Consulting story
The story of Equinox Consulting can be likened to a journey of hard work with a lot of fulfilment along the way; but like all journeys, things do not always go as planned. There are detours and there are new objectives that get set up along the journey. The business model and the strategy for survival have to be constantly updated especially if like us you have been able to survive two recessions.
We remain in business because there is, and has always been a compelling need for the work we do for our clients, and the demand for our services has enabled us to survive and be successful.
Twenty eight years ago we established, through research, that there were inequalities in the set up and survival rates for African and Caribbean people going into business in this country. We set up Equinox Consulting to provide them with business advice and counselling services. We designed, developed and delivered business skills management and growth courses and worked on business plans for them so that they could attract funding for their operations. We also helped to set up business organisations and worked with central government, local authorities and statutory agencies to develop strategies for supporting these small businesses.
Several years later we realised that the recession was biting for several people from disadvantaged communities; whether they had skills or not they could not get jobs that were suitable to their qualification. We helped to advocate for them and with central government assistance provided work and management training programmes that would enable them get jobs. The training was mainly in soft skills and in some cases we also run customised training programmes that were directly linked with employment. Through a brokerage system, we enabled black professionals keep their skills warm whilst working with small businesses as volunteers. We conducted research into barriers for young people getting on the job markets and we set up and run mentoring schemes.
African, Caribbean and Asian community and voluntary organisations have been faced with problems of change in funding regimes, issues of governance, the need for evaluations of their organisations, conflict in management and problems of taking a strategic and structured approach to their work. We have helped to provide some of the solutions for them. We have done this by undertaking research that leads to the mapping of their sectors, we have provided consultancy advice and also offered training programmes in the functional as well as governance and aspects of running organisations. We have worked directly on capacity building programmes with some of these groups, helped with strategy away day seminars, undertaken operational evaluations and reviews of their organisations, helped with consultations, drawn up business plans and feasibility studies for these organisations to enable them operate efficiently and provide better and effective services to the communities that they serve.
Along the way we have worked with grassroots organisations as well as second-tier and capacity building and support organisations and umbrella groups.
We have worked for groups in different sectors, in housing, in health and social care, in arts, in employment and enterprise development, in community safety and crime prevention, in education and welfare and also worked with groups whose remit have been crosscutting.
We have worked with refugee groups as well as the whole range of people from socially excluded communities in inner city areas of which black minority and ethnic groups form the major component.
We have seen several black and minority ethnic organisations fold up though thankfully some are still with us. We continue to have meaningful relationships with those that survive as well as the many race equality councils and councils for voluntary sector services– we continue to provide them with services that add value.
Having been around for 28 years also means that we have seen a lot of changes in public sector and statutory organisations. From manpower services commission, through training agencies, training and enterprise councils, learning and skills councils, business links and various permutations of the arts councils. We have seen local authorities change the way they work with the voluntary sector and helped develop strategy around this, we have seen the health authorities reconfigured into foundation trusts, primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. We have been actively involved in some of these changes.
Above all we have kept our close relationship with the voluntary sector by serving as volunteers and as trustees in various grassroots and second tier organisations. This has helped to enrich our experience and to deepen our expertise.
So when we say that we work in the area of enterprise strategies, employment initiatives and community development and that we primarily work with black and ethnic minority organisations, it is because our services of training, business planning, evaluations, feasibility studies, strategy away day sessions, capacity building, policy research, and consultations are needed and heavily demanded by these groups.
We promise that the tangible results of our association with any organisation, be they profit or non-profit making concerns, will result in positive changes in their performance and future.
This is what we offer our clients. This is the promise we have kept for 28 years. This is Equinox Consulting.