Minister for Small Business Paul Scully MP has met entrepreneurs taking part in Kingston University’s Help to Grow management programme as part of a fact-finding visit to learn more about how firms are overcoming challenges faced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Help to Grow is a government-subsidised short course that coaches small business leaders in all aspects of management, from strategy and innovation to digital skills and finance, so they can take advantage of opportunities to boost their companies’ success. The 12-week fast track, MBA-style programme, run by Kingston Business School, offers seminars and workshops, group work with peers and one-to-one mentoring with industry experts.
Since launching the programme, Kingston Business School has attracted the highest number of course participants in the United Kingdom. Current students include chief executives from a wide range of sectors, including fashion, pharmaceuticals, the service industries and healthcare. Mr Scully heard first hand from students and mentors taking part, who explained how they were benefiting from the programme.
They included Help to Grow student Charlotte Harrington, co-chief executive of Belu – a drinks business that supplies drinks and filtration systems to hospitality and corporations. Belu gives 100 per cent of its profit to WaterAid – a non-governmental organisation that provides water and sanitation globally – and has given £5 million to date.
“Help to Grow is a really useful opportunity to meet like-minded people and a good way to reflect on how to grow a business in the new world we find ourselves in due to Covid-19,” she said.
Head of Kingston Business School Ian Roberts praised the small business leaders who often went to enormous lengths to set up their enterprises, which in turn had a significant impact on supporting the local and regional economy. “Small business leaders make a vital contribution to society,” he said. “They are the individuals who risk everything and have the courage to innovate.
“We cannot underestimate their contribution to the economy. At Kingston Business School we take enormous pride in supporting them to further develop their skills through the Help to Grow programme.”
Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier said the University’s involvement in the Help to Grow initiative was a natural extension of its expertise in enterprise and innovation. Kingston has, for many years, been rated among the top institutions in the United Kingdom for supporting graduate start-ups.
“The Help to Grow programme has been designed to help entrepreneurs realise their potential as leaders and become part of an active business network. It’s particularly rewarding to hear individual stories about how the course has helped small businesses thrive against the challenging backdrop of the pandemic,” professor Spier added.