X-Forces, a social enterprise dedicated to helping ex-military members kick-start their own businesses, renewed their support to the Armed Forces alongside Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, in the House of Lords today.
Having helped to boost 750 businesses from the Armed Forces community since originally signing the Covenant in 2013, X-Forces scaled up their pledges today to go ‘beyond business as usual’ having found that, as well as offering loans and helping with business plans, they can offer support, opportunities and guidance to the Forces community.
Chief of Defence People Lieutenant General Richard Nugee said:
This is just one example of the Armed Forces Covenant in action. X-Forces have gone above and beyond – as well as offering start up loans and mentoring, they are supporting military charities and are encouraging large corporate organisations to do the same. I thank them for their support and look forward to another successful year working with them.
The government enshrined the Armed Forces Covenant in law as a promise from the nation to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.
Defence Minister Mark Lancaster said:
The Armed Forces is packed with people with immense talent and we’re determined to make sure our men and women are unleashing this to have successful careers – whether in the military or after they leave. X-Forces is an organisation that sums up the spirit of the Covenant and I’m delighted to see their fresh commitment today.
X-Forces has helped the Armed Forces community set up businesses ranging from craft beers to sugar-free jam, and below are some of the examples:
Blending boots with a beer business
Dorking-based Neel Singh was an officer in the Royal Navy Reserves before becoming the owner of Dorking Brewery, producer of craft beers.
With ten years of service under his belt, and operational tours that included helping to rescue migrants from the Mediterranean on board HMS Bulwark, Neel took the leap into brewery ownership with financial and professional help from X-Forces.
“I have always thought that I would like to own my own business and I enjoyed Dorking Brewery’s product so I knew I had to grab the opportunity,” he said.
“I have been grateful to receive support, both financial, and professional from X Forces through my journey with Dorking Brewery. This advice has enabled me to grow the business faster, and more stably than imagined.
“The results speak for themselves: this year we will be twice the size of the previous owners. We will have also secured new customers ranging from Tesco, through to the House of Commons and the Royal Navy.”
A different kind of theatre
A Hackney-based former Officer Cadet, Sophie Jones, is also among many to receive support from X-Forces.
The 25 year-old joined the Officer Training Corps whilst at university, and credits the motivational skills that she learnt as key to her success in launching her mobile theatre business, Bards Front Room Theatre.
“I think Officer Training Corps equipped me well to feel confident enough to take this step and to manage teams of people,” she said.
Her theatre performances are made to take place in intimate spaces, like at home, work, or even on a boat. The actors perform quality theatre to audiences in intimate spaces, touring care homes, schools, private parties, charity events, museums and libraries.
From battle to breakfast
When people say they came up with their business idea around the breakfast table, not many mean this as literally as former Navy officer Kevin Bath and his family, who launched the Jim Jams brand of breakfast products.
“We started a business without absolutely any industry experience. Seeking guidance is the single most important thing you can do,” he said. “Having served in the Royal Navy I felt X-Forces would have an understanding of my work ethic and determination to help secure the financial support we required.”
Jim Jams was born with a simple aim, to make breakfast healthier without taking the fun out of it. Since receiving a £25K start-up loan from X-Forces, the products have been flying off the shelves in Tesco, Wholefoods, Morrison’s and many other major retailers.