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New network launched to support Asian-founded businesses

Backed by Barclays Eagle Labs and De Montfort University.

Asian Founders Community Meet 2024 launched at sell-out event in Leicester.
Asian Founders Community Meet 2024 launched at sell-out event in Leicester.

A new network designed to support Asian founded businesses to scale up and innovate is set to inspire businesses around the country after launching here in Leicester.


The Asian Founders Community Meet will see hundreds of businesses attend events held around the country, from Scotland to Southampton, run in partnership between Barclays Eagle Labs and Leicester's De Montfort University (DMU).


And it all began last night as entrepreneurs, business owners, mentors and funders came together last night (April 24, 2024) for the launch event at Winstanley House in Braunstone.


The Asian Founders Community Meet was devised by Eagle Labs ecosystem manager Poonam Sharma and Nimesh Kanani, city leader for Barclays Leicester to offer targeted support and networking opportunities for businesses owned by or founded by Asian entrepreneurs.


Poonam said: "I'm extremely proud to launch the Asian Founders Community Meet with Nimesh Kanani in Leicester before heading to eight other cities across the UK. Supporting and empowering Asian entrepreneurs is vitally important and for Barclays Eagle Labs to launch the initiative here in Leicester, a city which boasts so many successful Asian businesses, is very exciting indeed."


Helen Donnellan, director of Research Business and Innovation at DMU, said the university was proud to be a partner of the Asian Founders programme. She said: "At DMU, we believe that diversity inspires innovation.


"Different approaches are taken, different ideas shared and exciting things happen when you empower people to succeed. That is why Asian Founders Community Meet is so important in showcasing and connecting founders and creating opportunity for everyone."

Helen Donnellan, director of Research Business and Innovation at DMU; Amanda Allen, Director of Barclays Eagle Labs UK; Nimesh Kanani of Barclays Leicester and Poonam Sharma, manager of Barclays Eagle Labs Leicester.
Helen Donnellan, director of Research Business and Innovation at DMU; Amanda Allen, Director of Barclays Eagle Labs UK; Nimesh Kanani of Barclays Leicester, and Poonam Sharma, manager of Barclays Eagle Labs Leicester.

A fireside chat saw Chandila Fernando of Innovate UKRI, Jaz Kaur of Fraser Stretton Property Group, Shahid Sheikh OBE of Clifton Packaging Group and designer Jay Gill founder of Jheez Clothing share their stories and experiences of starting and running successful businesses and pitching to investors.


Taruna Mistry of CIC Leicester Community Links said: "Events like this are really important – hearing other people’s stories gives you ideas and I have already made connections tonight that will help my business."


Keynote speaker Anuj Ashar, a 22-year-old entrepreneur who has already had more than five businesses, said: "I am such a supporter of Asian Founders programme and to hear events will be held around the country is brilliant.


"It’s so important to come together as a community and supporting each other through sharing our expertise or our contacts or our skills to help each other."


DMU’s Innovation Centre, home to the only Eagle Lab in the East Midlands, hosted the first event last year when the idea was trialled with three events.

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