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The Guild of Entrepreneurs successfully petitioned the Court of Aldermen for Guild status in 2014 with ambitions to become a Company without Livery by 2019, and a full Livery Company by 2024. It is formed of men and women connected with the City of London who have invested their own time and financial resources in establishing and running successful businesses and enterprises. Its motto is Dare, Create, Succeed
Whilst the Company of Merchant Adventurers and Society of Merchant Venturers continued the distinct craft of entrepreneurship (merchant venturing) in York and Bristol respectively, there was, in the early 21st Century, no comparable extant organisation in London.
About this time, the City was recapturing some of its ancient trading origins alongside its established global role in financial and professional services. The repurposing of once large banking halls, the growth of the business centre market and the development of technology were again making the City and the surrounding area more accessible to new types of entrepreneurial activity including media, textiles, communications, retail and leisure. This entrepreneurial activity was extending into neighbourhoods such as Smithfield, Shoreditch, Spitalfields and Borough on the City fringes where small business growth was already being supported by initiatives from the City of London Corporation and its formal partners along with the Angel and Venture Capital market. The City was alive with business networks, investment clubs, technology meetings and associations, suggesting that there were many thousands of entrepreneurs with an affinity with the City of London.
The serial finance and communications entrepreneur Dan Doherty (a liveryman of the Needlemakers’ Company), had already founded and was running a successful informal group for Entrepreneurs called “Entrepreneurs – City of London Network”.
The network met regularly at the London Capital Club (Gresham Club#London Capital Club) in the City, and had always linked its activities to promoting enterprise in and around the City, appreciated the City’s civic activities, supported charity and pro-bono work and hosted events in City venues. The membership of this group included a number of liverymen of the City’s Livery Companies, and from amongst them and others, the Founding Committee of the proposed Guild was drawn.
With assistance from the Chamberlain’s Court and from Adele Thorpe (a Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators and Clerk of many years’ standing), a proposal document was drawn up and delivered to the Court of Aldermen. It was accompanied by numerous letters of support from amongst the City Livery Companies, academic institutions and businesses. Approval was given for the formation of the new Guild on July 8, 2014.
Formal working party meetings were held in August and September 2014 to approve the rules and suggested governance of the Guild, and, on September 8, 2014, the Guild’s first Court Meeting was held at the Old Bailey, with the following Founding Freemen elected to serve as Court Assistants:
Sir Paul Judge, who was at that time serving his shrieval year, had been the Guild’s sponsoring Alderman, and Dan Doherty proposed that Sir Paul be installed as the Guild’s Foundation Master. The Court approved this, and the following officers were elected to serve for the first year:
In addition to those elected to serve as Court Assistants, the Guild also recognised the support of five other Founding Freemen:
On November 24, 2014, the Guild had its official launch at Ironmongers’ Hall (Worshipful Company of Ironmongers). The event was attended by the then Lord Mayor, the Sheriffs, Masters and Clerks representing over half of the City’s (then) 110 Livery Companies, as well as numerous guests. This historic ceremonial occasion lived long in the memories of those who were there – not least due to the rousing cheers of “Welcome Entrepreneurs!” that rang out that evening. It was on this occasion that the Foundation Master was installed, and the Wardens and Court sworn-in, and it is on or around November 24 each year that each new Master is Installed.
The objectives of the Guild are to:
An entrepreneur will have identified new market opportunities, sourced and organised the required people and resources, and experienced both the risks and rewards associated with such ventures.
The Guild has a busy programme of social, educational and charitable events, which fulfil the Guild's founding objectives. In particular, the Guild has a wide range of Outreach & Educational projects ([www.guildofentrepreneurs.org]) in which Freeman (members of the Guild, whether men or women) undertake mentoring for students of business and entrepreneurship as well as fledgling businesses and entrepreneurial activities.
The Guild of Entrepreneurs Trust is a charitable foundation set up by the Guild, but operating independently. Its primary objective is to raise and distribute money to support education and charity relating to entrepreneurship.
The Guild's motto is Dare, Create, Succeed. The motto encapsulates the criteria that an individual must fulfil before they may be considered for the Freedom of the Guild: to be audacious and daring in identifying new opportunities; to have personally financed, created and run businesses or enterprises to harness those opportunities; and for those businesses or enterprises to have been successful.
The Guild is governed by the Court, which is made up of the Master, three Wardens, the Foundation Master, the most recent five Past Masters and between six and twenty Court Assistants elected from the Freemen. The Master and Wardens are elected annually at the Election Court in July, and take office at the Installation Court in November. The Clerk is the Chief Executive of the Guild.
The Officers are presently:
Master: Peter Hewitt JP
Senior Warden: Rick Lowe
Middle Warden: Lars Andersen
Junior Warden: Judy Hadden (Chair, Outreach)
Immediate Past Master: Lee Robertson
Having played so pivotal a role in the foundation, organisation and birth of the Guild, Dan Doherty was elected to serve as the Guild's second Master at the Election Court in July 2015.
In October 2015, just weeks before his installation as Master, Dan was diagnosed with a serious medical condition. Ably supported by his many friends and colleagues, he was installed as Master at Painters' Hall on 25 November 2015. He requested and was granted an immediate leave of absence to begin treatment for his illness, but his condition overwhelmed him and he died in office on 16 March 2016.
In memory of his work as the founder of the Guild, and his Mastership, the Guild's Court purchased by private subscription the Dan Doherty Memorial Bell. The bell rings in E for Entrepreneurs and was founded at the Whitechapel Bellfoundry (Whitechapel Bell Foundry) in London's East End. Dan Doherty was fiercely proud of his roots in East London, and all that the Guild has achieved during its first years. The bell is rung once each year at the Installation Dinner and a toast drunk.
2014-15 Sir Paul Judge
2015-16 Dan Doherty (died in office 16 March 2016)
2016-17 Kate Jolly
2017-18 Lee Robertson