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A new collaboration between business schools in Greater Manchester will support SMEs in the region to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Open SME is a free, on-demand, online learning programme for SME leaders that aims to give them the tools they need to grow their business beyond the pandemic.
The programme is led by Manchester Metropolitan University, in partnership with the University of Bolton, the University of Manchester, Salford University, and the Business Growth Hub, and is funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).
The programme, which will be self-directed by the business owners, aims to help at least 400 SMEs, to increase productivity, profitability, resilience and sustainability.
The scheme will particularly target those under-represented boroughs in Greater Manchester, outside of the city centre, removing any potential geographical barriers to attendance and providing a fully inclusive offering. It will also establish 250 longer-term mentoring relationships.
Prof Dominic Medway, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for the Faculty of Business and Law at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “We are delighted to be working with our neighbouring business schools to support SMEs in our city-region.
“Often business owners are unaware of the potential benefits of engaging with leadership and management training for their business. This programme is designed to fit in with the busy lifestyle of SME business owners and allows them to complete the training in their own time, making it more accessible.
“Together, we can unlock economic potential and drive inward investment in the Greater Manchester area, and help support our city-region.”
Open SME forms part of Greater Manchester Leadership Hive, a new resource for SME leaders who want to grow their business and become more profitable.
Delivered by Greater Manchester’s university business schools and the Business Growth Hub, the Leadership Hive brings the best leadership and management training available in the region together in one place.
Joanne Roney, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Lead Chief Executive for Economy and Business, said: “The launch of Open SME is fantastic news for SMEs in Greater Manchester.
“The programme takes the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists in our world-class business schools and makes it available to the wider business community. Open SME is free of charge and easy to access, with modules completed at a pace to suit you.
“SMEs will help drive Greater Manchester’s economic recovery from the pandemic, so it’s vital that we find creative and effective ways to support them. Our Economic Vision for Greater Manchester includes help for small businesses to grow, wherever they are based so that we can build a greener, fairer, more prosperous city-region.
“We encourage all business leaders who could benefit from Open SME to get in touch to learn more.”
Open SME is an online portal, allowing business owners and managers to work their way through several modules in the areas of finance, digital and markets and models at their own pace.
The university business schools will work closely with referral and delivery partner GC Business Growth Hub and will draw on the best experts from all partners to develop the content.
Sustainability and inclusivity will be embedded throughout the programme, with Greater Manchester’s 2038 carbon neutrality goal in mind.
Janine Smith, Director of Business Growth at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “Many SMEs have endured a tough couple of years and the business environment is still challenging, so it’s right that we’re doing all we can to support them as they navigate their companies across unfamiliar and changing business landscapes.
“We’re really excited to be working with Greater Manchester’s outstanding business schools to apply their knowledge and expertise; helping SMEs across Greater Manchester, and in turn benefiting the city-region’s wider economy.”