An MBA for small businesses—that’s the bright new idea from UK chancellor and former Stanford MBA Rishi Sunak, who’s launched the Help to Grow scheme as part of his COVID recovery budget in the UK.
Small businesses, who have been hit hardest by the pandemic, will have access to free ‘MBA style’ online courses, management training delivered by top UK business schools. The UK government will invest £520 million ($727 million) in the scheme, in the hope that small-to-medium enterprise (SME) growth will fuel the UK’s economic recovery.
“This appears to be a great opportunity for our top business schools to help SMEs navigate the pathway to a full recovery from the pandemic,” explains MBA industry expert Alex Brown.
The scheme hopes to reach around 130,000 businesses.
Help To Grow: MBA training for small business owners
Firms will have access to two aspects of the scheme. First, the ‘Help to Grow: Management’ program will offer access to subsidized management training offered by UK business schools.
Like on a normal MBA degree, small business owners can finesse their knowledge of everything from financial management to marketing. This will include up to 50 hours of one-to-one support from a business mentor.
The UK government seems keen to cash in on the expertise of business schools, which are increasingly home to small business owners and entrepreneurs. 73% of recent MBA graduates said they had access to resources at their business school to support entrepreneurial endeavors.
Andrew Crisp, founder of business education industry expert CarringtonCrisp, says business schools must offer education that is strictly relevant to these business owners. “They will need to think carefully about content, delivery and how they engage. Working with businesses is not the same as 18-year-old undergraduates.”
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The other aspect, the ‘Help to Grow: Digital’ program, will offer advice through a free platform on how to run your business more efficiently using technology. Part of this will include offering 50% discount vouchers (up to £5,000 or $7,000) for digital software that can enhance productivity.
Productivity is one area identified where the UK could improve significantly, lagging far behind countries like Germany, France, the US, and Canada when it comes to output per hour (one such measure of productivity). The UK Chancellor has predicted that improvements to productivity and efficiency could add £100 billion ($140 billion) to the UK economy.
Rishi Sunak can personally attest to the benefits of MBA-style management training, having himself studied on the Stanford MBA before carving a path through finance and politics.
“The chancellor is an alum of one of the best business schools in the world; he, no doubt, has a real understanding of how important the opportunities provided by business schools are,” says Alex.
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