CFE Spring 2022 Update

CFE Spring 2022 Update: Goodbye Neeta, hello Tim…


Dear friends & family of CFE,

I write this introduction with a tear in my eye — this is my last CFE newsletter as CEO before I sign off and begin a new chapter in my career. It’s a bittersweet moment for me, having been so involved in first NEF (in 2012!) and latterly CFE; in both good and ‘interesting’ times. I’ve had the great privilege of meeting some amazing and inspiring people during my time, and I’m immensely proud of connections and community that we’ve built.

Whilst I’m sad to be leaving CFE, I’m convinced that CFE is in a great place, with robust finances, a strong team and new leader (read on for more details) and a developing partnership with Founders Forum. CFE’s impact continues to grow and scale — from the NEF+ programme that goes from strength to strength, our incredible networks and a research programme that will help to shape the future of entrepreneurship policy in the UK, and beyond. The positive impact that CFE makes, and will continue to make, is a source of immense personal pride.

As well as details of CFE’s new leadership, our Spring newsletter has a full roundup of progress in all our work areas and updates on our partnership with Founders Forum. It’s an exciting time for the charity and I look forward to watching how CFE goes on to develop and grow in the coming years.

Finally, I’d like to take the opportunity to thank everyone that I’ve had the opportunity to connect with over my time at CFE and NEF. You are a truly inspirational and wonderful group of people connected by a shared passion for the positive impact of entrepreneurship – please keep it that way!

Warm Regards,



CFE update

NEF+ Class of 2022

NEF+ Alumni Highlights

Founders Forum Partnership

Incubator and Accelerator Network

Refugee Entrepreneurship Network


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CFE update


An update on our team

The end of May sees the end of one very significant chapter for CFE, when Neeta formally steps down as CEO after more than 10 years at the helm – initially at NEF and in more recent years, CFE.

As CFE’s first and, to date, CFE’s only CEO, Neeta has led the charity from the first NEF cohort, through the integration with Centre for Entrepreneurs, our partnership with Founders Forum and the relaunch of the all-new NEF+ programme. During all of this time, Neeta has been at the forefront of the UK entrepreneurship ecosystem: building CFE’s impact; growing our communities; supporting successive cohorts of NEF+ alumni and culminating with the start of the 12th, and newest cohort last month.

Neeta will leave some big shoes to fill – and we’re delighted to announce that Tim Barnes joins CFE from 8th May as interim CEO, to lead the charity in its next phase of development. Tim comes with a wealth of experience and connections in the entrepreneurship space including as an entrepreneur, investor, chair of NACUE’s board of trustees and former head of the centre for entrepreneurship at UCL.

“I’d like to express my gratitude to all of our supporters, friends and partners for making my time at CFE a decade-long adventure. While I am sad to go, I am confident that CFE is going to be left in good hands. Tim has been a great supporter and leader within the entrepreneurship sphere, and I am thrilled to see him go on to write our next chapter.” – Neeta Patel CBE

“On behalf of CFE’s trustees, team and all our community I want to thank Neeta for her boundless enthusiasm, drive and dedication. Neeta has been a fundamental part of CFE’s success and we wish her well in the next phase of her career.” – Oliver Pawle

Whilst Neeta steps down as a CFE employee, she will continue to be involved in CFE’s work, joining our advisory board and will remain connected to the NEF+ alumni network as a friend, advisor and supporter to many of our alumni.

The end of April also saw us saying goodbye to another member of the CFE team – Lance Tredell, who has left to (re)join PwC as Business Development Manager, after a year of spearheading the scaleup element of the NEF+ programme. We wish Lance all the best in this next phase of his career.


An update on our CFE trustee board

We are also pleased to welcome Joanna Santinon, who joins us as the newest member of CFE’s Board of Trustees. Joanna is a chartered accountant and chartered tax advisor, and is currently Audit Committee Chair for Octopus Future Generations VCT plc. She also co-chairs The Women’s Network Forum. Over a career spanning 25 years at Ernst & Young, Joanna was a member of the London Markets Board and played key roles in transactions in the UK and Europe. She also co-founded the EY Womens Network and led the EY UK Entrepreneur of The Year Programme.


NEF+ Class of 2022  


Bootcamp for NEF+’s 12th cohort kicked off on Thursday 21st April – 28 new participants with a range of businesses from Web3 to digital pets got to meet for the first time and start their NEF+ journeys.The new cohort again includes a number of scaleup participants who will use NEF+ to develop their entrepreneurial leadership skills on the NEF+ programme.

At bootcamp, NEFers got to hear from NEF+ Programme Designer Mike Bandar as well as learning about communication and resilience from long-time NEF+ coach Laura Williams.

To help our NEFers tap into our support networks, we were also joined by Philippa Seal (Chair of NEF+ Mentors Panel) and Sarah Perrott (Chair of NEF+ Coaching Panel) who gave an introduction to the 1:1 mentoring and coaching elements of the programme.

The cohort have since completed their first Masterclass on Entrepreneurial Problem Solving. They are currently completing their first NEF+ Programme challenge – to make £1000 net profit in 3 weeks with a new product/service in their tribes. We look forward to seeing how the NEFers get on when they present at the Challenge Showcase on 20th May – interested alumni would be welcome to attend and mentor/judge the NEFers.



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NEF+ Pitch Week


Our 11th cohort returned for the ‘NEF+ Pitch Finale’ where we saw five finalists compete for the Chairman’s Award for the best pitch. 

The competition was tough, but Misi Ogunlana, Co-founder of TFB Studios managed to take the prize with her UK-based sustainable fashion production house – an expansion from her current fashion consulting brand to vertically-integrate her suite of offerings to fashion companies. 

Two more awards were given out at the Finale, the CEO’s Award was awarded by Neeta Patel CBE to Kiran Thadhani for her exceptional commitment and progress on the NEF+ Programme and for showing promise to develop into a future entrepreneurial leader; the Fellows’ Award, voted for by the 11th cohort, was given to Kristian Marcus for his continual commitment to the NEF+ Community and his fellow cohort members. 


NEF+ Alumni Highlights 

NEF+ 2014’s Eliot Brooks at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Forum. (Photo: Forbes Middle East)


It has been an eventful quarter watching our alumni network moving the needle yet again:



Support our Alumni ventures (new!)

As a new extension of our Alumni updates, we’ve collated some of the active requests made by our alumni, in support of their ventures’ growth.

If you might be able to advise on a potential exit strategy (#EdTech) – or even make a connection with leaders in the charity sector (#Saas) – please click here to read the full list of requests. 



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From NEFers, for NEFers


Thank you to our alumni donors 

We would like to thank our alumni for their donations that will be critical in supporting even more entrepreneurial leaders of the future, as we continue to scale the NEF+ programme.

A huge thank you to Kike Oniwinde, BYP Network, (2018), Louis Mech (2012), Ravi Patel (2012),



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Founders Forum Partnership 



Some exciting developments have been unfolding within the Founders Forum family:


Register for upcoming FF events 

London Tech Week – 13 to 15 June

Get your tickets to London Tech Week from 13-15 June to hear from inspiring speakers from Accenture, Jumpcloud, Maersk, Marshmallow, Multiverse and SVB. Click here to secure your pass.


Women Who Build – 19th May

firstminute capital are co-hosting an event with Founders Factory on May 19th – Women Who Build will bring together engineering, product, design and tech leaders to form Europe’s most ambitious community of women who build. The panel event takes place from 11:30am-1:30pm at Informa House, 240 Blackfriars Road – you can sign up for the event here.


Pitch event for Early-stage Founders – 19 June

Retail CIO Connect is looking for innovative founders to pitch at its Dragons’ Den-inspired session on Wednesday 8 June at Sopwell House Hotel just outside of London. This is an opportunity for early-stage retail tech entrepreneurs (with companies under two years old, with less than five employees) to pitch their offerings to senior-level IT pros from the UK’s leading retailers  – from Boots, Farfetch and John Lewis, to Tesco, Waterstones and more. Reach out here to apply now.


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Incubator and Accelerator Network 

IAN’s fifth annual conference

IAN will convene in Birmingham this June for its fifth annual conference, bringing together incubator managers, investors, entrepreneurs, and policymakers from across the UK.

Hosted by Bruntwood at Innovation Birmingham Campus, the conference will blend expert panels, in-depth workshops, and group discussions to tackle some of the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the incubation industry. Speakers will include Roxanne Varza, Director of Station F and Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands. Learn more here


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Refugee Entrepreneurship Network  

Refugee entrepreneurship summit heads to Venice

Refugee Entrepreneurship Network will convene in Venice this October, bringing together 180 world-leading refugee entrepreneurship practitioners, researchers, policymakers, funders, and impact investors.

The summit will be hosted at Procuratie Vecchie in St Mark’s Square. This is the new home of The Human Safety Net, Generali Insurance Group’s charitable foundation which is one of the most significant corporate funders of refugee entrepreneurship programmes globally. Register for updates here.


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Wishing you a wonderful (and sunny!) Spring ahead.

As always, a particular thank you to our donors and supporters, without whom our work would not be possible.


Best wishes,



Thank you to all our donors

CFE Donors


Lord Agnew of Oulton, parliamentary under secretary of state, Department for Education; Ian Armitage, co-founder, Isfield Investments; Lord Davies of Abersoch, chairman, Corsair Capital; Sir Lloyd Dorfman, founder, Travelex; The Golden Bottle TrustDavid Gregson, co-founder, Phoenix; Andrew Joy, senior advisor, Stonehage Fleming; Lord Lupton, ex-chairman, Greenhill Europe; Sir Keith Mills, ex-deputy chairman, LOCOG; Monica Monajem, managing director, Amitis Partners; Jon Moulton, founder, Better Capital; Vin Murria, entrepreneur, investor, philanthropist and HG Capital board member; Rajal Patni & Rohit Patni, Lavanya Plus; Oliver Pawle, chair, board practice, Korn Ferry; David Pearl, David Pearlman Foundation; Andy Phillipps, entrepreneur and early stage technology investor; Mark Pritchard, founder, Allied Minds; The Rayne FoundationMike Rees, former deputy group CEO, Standard Chartered; Sir John Ritblat, honorary president, The British Land Company PLC; Gerald Ronson, Gerald Ronson Foundation; Sir Nigel Rudd, chairman, Business Growth Fund; Sadell FellowshipElisabeth Scott, former trustee, New Entrepreneurs Foundation; David Tibble, Inspiration Trust; Jean-Baptiste Wautier, managing partner, BC Partners; The Hon. Charles Wigoder, executive chairman, Utility Warehouse. Corbyn Munnick, CEO Sliide Class of 2013, Joel Gujral, Founder & CEO MYNDUP Class of 2020, Alex Somervell, Co-Founder & CEO One Third Stories Class of 2016, Fiona Timba, Legal Counsel Barclays Class of 2015, Guy Riese, CEO & Founder Up Learn Class of 2016, JJ Tan, Founder Jelly Class of 2017 and Quin Murray, Co-Founder & CPO Krzana Class of 2015.


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