A national scheme to encourage business mentoring has been hailed a great success by national business leaders, local business owners and policy makers following a pilot scheme in Greater Manchester and Birmingham.
GC Business Growth, part of The Growth Company, and Greater Birmingham Business Growth Hub developed and began delivery of the pilot in March 2018 following a request from Be the Business. Chaired by Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, Be the Business is a private-sector led organisation created to close the UK’s productivity gap.
After both Growth Hubs identified suitable local businesses and matched them with appropriate mentors in their respective areas, a cohort of over 40 mentees, drawn from a diverse group of SMEs in both Birmingham and Greater Manchester, have had the benefit of one-to-one guidance and advice from volunteer mentors working at some of the UK’s biggest companies, such as Siemens, GSK and BAE Systems.
At an event held at The Landing at MediaCity UK on June 20th, representatives from over 50 firms and business support organisations came together to discuss the positive impact the pilot programme has already had on both the mentors and mentees since being launched four months ago.
A special dinner was also hosted, attended by the Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, Tony Danker, the chief executive of Be the Business, and Richard Jeffery, director of GC Business Growth Hub.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Both commercially and socially, city-regions like Manchester and Birmingham thrive on strong communities, supportive networks and a culture of collaboration.
“It’s therefore fitting that these two areas were chosen to lead on this programme which has seen valuable insights gained by senior executives from major UK companies being shared with ambitious SMEs in the North West and the Midlands.
“I’m proud that Greater Manchester has been able to play a part in this initiative’s success.”
Sir Charlie Mayfield, Chairman of Be the Business, and the John Lewis Partnership, said: “Mentoring is a powerful way for us to improve business performance. It’s often as rewarding for the mentors as it is for the companies they are supporting, and the results are extremely encouraging. I’m delighted to say that the feedback from both the mentors and mentees in Greater Manchester and the West Midlands has been incredibly positive.
“High quality interventions like these can make a significant difference to a business’s performance. We will take what we’ve learned in our pilot and put it to good use when we scale up nationally later this year.”
Richard Jeffery, director of GC Business Growth Hub, said: “Increased growth for the good of all citizens is at the heart of the support we and our colleagues in Birmingham offer SMEs, and mentoring is one effective way to unlock economic potential.
“Research has shown that SMEs that receive support from a mentor benefit from increased productivity, experience over twice as much sustained growth and employ more than twice as many staff when compared to firms with no mentoring provision.”
“We are therefore delighted that our support for this scheme in Greater Manchester has helped lead to it to being rolled-out nationally by Be the Business in partnership with some of the world’s biggest firms.”
Dr Dave Tudor, Head of Strategy, Global Manufacturing and Supply, GSK said: “At GSK, we have witnessed the value mentoring brings to a business. We are incredibly proud to lead and provide mentors for this initiative and be part of a business movement where companies across the UK can grow together by learning from each other. Mentoring is a mutually beneficial experience, and I know that our mentors greatly value the relationships they have established.”
The success of the regional initiative will now see it rolled out across the UK by Be the Business. In addition to Siemens, GSK and BAE Systems who supported the pilot, other companies set to drive the programme nationally include The John Lewis Partnership, Cisco, Accenture, BT, Amazon, KPMG and McKinsey.
Another key partner involved in both the pilot and the national roll-out is Sharing in Growth (SiG). SiG is a £250m programme set up in 2013 to deliver intensive development to UK suppliers in the aerospace industry.
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