West Midlands businesses to benefit from free growth programme

West Midlands businesses to benefit from free growth programme

Aston University is looking for small business leaders to join The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth.

The programme was developed to support business leaders based within the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP regions to achieve early-stage growth through a series of workshops, one-to-one support, and networking.  

The Programme will begin in January 2017 and is currently inviting applications from ambitious small business and social enterprise leaders.

The six-month programme consists of 9 one-day workshops taught by experts in SME leadership and management, together with one-to-one support from an experienced business mentor.

Participants will be able to network with other business owners from across the Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire and Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP regions, and will have the opportunity to pitch their growth strategy to external finance experts.

The programme, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), follows the success of a pilot programme run in 2015, and is delivered by Aston Centre for Growth alongside a range of support offered by Aston University to growing SMEs.

All the 2015 participants anticipate significant growth in turnover with 60% expecting turnover growth of more than 200% and 48% also projecting employee numbers to grow in excess of 200% by 2018.

Professor Mark Hart from Aston Business School said: "The survival and growth of new business ventures in the Midlands are essential to the prosperity of the region. Simply having a high level of start-up activity in the region is not sufficient on its own.

"We are delighted to be able to extend the opportunity for more early-stage businesses to benefit from support that we know will accelerate their initial growth, and we’re looking forward to welcoming some of the region’s most ambitious small business leaders to the programme."

Sian Kelly director of Inform Accounting was a participant on the pilot programme. She said: "I found it really beneficial to work with other participants on the programme, sharing ideas and gaining some new business. I would definitely recommend the programme to other small businesses as it is great for networking and provides the tools to develop your strategy for growth specific to your business. I now have new clients and have gained more confidence in my growth plan"

The programme aims to create over 80 jobs across the three LEP regions by 2019.