Flagship business support scheme set to match thousands of small businesses with volunteer mentors

Help To Grow scheme set to match thousands of small businesses with volunteer mentors
Help To Grow scheme set to match thousands of small businesses with volunteer mentors

New scheme set to help small businesses

The Government’s flagship business support programme Help to Grow: Management is set to match thousands of small firms with volunteer mentors from leading businesses as it enters its secondyear.

Top names including Microsoft, banking giant Santander, FTSE 100 telecoms firm Vodafone, leadingflexible space provider WeWork and home repairs and improvements firm HomeServe, havesigned up their leaders alongside hundreds of small business owners to join a network of voluntary mentors who will help support small businesses develop a growth action plan.

The service has launched and will offer programme participants access to quality mentors based on region, sector, and skill requirements.

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    The Help to Grow: Management scheme offers business leaders one-to-one support from a business mentor included in 50 hours of leadership and management training across 12 weeks, with the government covering 90 per cent of the costs involved.

    Training is delivered via a national network of 56 Business Schools.

    Working with mentors

    According to the latest Small Business Barometer from Enterprise Nation, around a quarter of firms (24 per cent) said they were already working with a mentor and of those 80 per cent rated their experience very good or excellent.

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    Expert view

    Emma Jones, founder of small business support platform Enterprise Nation, part of the consortium of businesses contracted to recruit volunteer mentors for the scheme, said: “It’s been so incredibly humbling to see high calibre leaders including hundreds of independent business owners, with the human strength and humility to step forward and offer their own time, experience and knowledge to support the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs.

    “Our platform will allow businesses to find the perfect match for their business so they can start to put what they have learned into practice.”

    Small Business Minister Jane Hunt MP said: “Seizing opportunity is what being a business leader is all about, and our Help to Grow: Management Scheme is giving entrepreneurs the chance to access the very best advice on how to innovate, reach new customers and boost profits.

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    “The great and the good of the business world are signing up to mentor the next generation of top business leaders through the scheme, and I encourage even more people to sign up as both mentors and mentees through Help to Grow.”

    A digital platform will use data and weighting technology to pair businesses with mentors based on region, sector, and mentoring support required. Mentors are voluntary and offer a commitment of ten hours, over 12 weeks, plus time to engage in training offered by the Association of Business Mentors.

    Once they have found a mentor that suits their requirements, the Help to Grow: Management participant will then use the platform to book in sessions and communicate with each other.

    Dr Adam Jones, principal lecturer and director of the University of Brighton's Help to Grow: Management programme said: “The mentoring element of the course is one of the most important aspects of the programme for delegates.

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    "It means they have support from a 'critical friend' who can help them with their growth plan and sense check their long-term approach. Mentoring really helps embed learnings in a practical way and helps supporta lasting legacy because connections that are made, may continue beyond the lifetime of the programme."

    Experienced entrepreneurs and trusted advisers are also signing up to be voluntary mentors including Herman Stewart, founder of Every Child Needs a Mentor, banking and fintech innovator Helene Panzarino, award-winning entrepreneur Chris Cole, founder of 40 Fathoms and ecommerce innovator Nathan Lomax who launched and quickly took Quickfire Digital to a £1m revenue business.

    Tim Hinton, Head, Corporate & Commercial Banking, Santander UK, said: “We are totally committed to supporting this national effort to help boost the growth of small businesses, not least through our talented and experienced employees acting as volunteer mentors.”

    Led by business support group Newable and including Enterprise Nation and the Association of Business Mentors, the consortium has been grant funded to develop a national network of business leaders and experts who will share their skills and experience with firms on the practical management training course.