Meet NAYBA’s new UK National Leader

Matt Bird

NAYBA is delighted to announce that we have appointed Geoff Baxter OBE as UK National Leader. Geoff will be spearheading NAYBA’s work across the UK as we help local churches better love their neighbours and transform their neighbourhoods.

Geoff is no stranger to NAYBA. He has been Spirit of Enterprise Catalyst since it launched early in 2021. Since then, Geoff has worked with six churches to help people start their own businesses. The first four graduates are already running their own organisations.

In 2022, more than 20 churches have requested to be part of the Spirit of Enterprise programmes.

So, we decided to find out a little bit more about Geoff, who received an OBE for his services to justice, and his plans for NAYBA in the UK.

Can you tell us what it means to be leading NAYBA in the UK?

In the last few months, my role in NAYBA has been as Spirit of Enterprise Catalyst, which is involved overseeing development of relationships with churches that want to engage individuals planning to set up a business. As that role has developed, I've specifically been chatting to Matt about exploring the idea of me taking a role within NAYBA that would include the Replicate programmes and also impact audits for the UK and Ireland.

How has Spirit of Enterprise progressed?

We've had a lot of interest from churches who have explored things like job clubs and training for individuals who are not in employment. Where it's not necessarily appropriate for those people to be employed, a church can really support and get behind them by linking them to mentors who have gone through that process of running their own business. The church is also able to provide space where people can journey together.

We've got six churches now running a Spirit of Enterprise course, and we have just over 20 that are looking to run a course in the new year. What that means is we should be seeing a real multiplication in a number of businesses that are launching in the next 12 months. And that's happening because churches are being able to give them the support that they need.

How do you see your new role with NAYBA?

For me this is about building on the momentum that we've seen coming out of all of the restrictions from Covid. We’ve built momentum around Spirit of Enterprise. We're seeing churches engage with that. For me in the next 12 months, it's certainly about establishing that momentum in the other two areas: Replicate and Impact Audits.

What is your work experience?

My experience is within charities and I’ve helped run a number of them. I was involved in the national leadership of Youth for Christ, in the UK. Whilst I was there, I founded a project called Reflex, which supported young offenders through non formal education. We ran employability and enterprise courses with them, so my first experience of that was in supporting marginalised young people find avenues to work. As part of that, I was nominated for the OBE for Services to youth justice, which I'm very proud of. 

When I left Youth for Christ and Reflex, I went and worked for the Living Well Trust, who support vulnerable families in communities where they're providing triage services, such as drop-in centres and breakfast clubs before school. 

I also run my own consultancy business, which supports charities, and that has been helpful with Spirit of Enterprise, as I know what it’s like to run a business. All this experience will help me increase the presence of NAYBA throughout the UK and Ireland. 

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