Published on 03/08/2020
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  • The announcement comes as part of a £20 million package announced by the government to support the recovery and growth of small and medium-sized businesses following the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Aston Business School will be delivering the Small Business Leadership Programme run by the Small Business Charter
  • The programme, rolled out through business schools across England, will help leaders make their businesses more resilient and productive for the long-term 


Aston Business School is working with the Small Business Charter to deliver a specialised government funded programme for leaders of small businesses to survive and thrive in the coming months and post coronavirus. This new scheme comes as part of a £20million package the government are providing to help small businesses in the long term.

To aid business resilience and future growth in the current climate, the Small Business Leadership Programme will create peer groups to develop stronger leadership, innovation, operational efficiency, marketing and finance.

Aston Business School was accredited by the Small Business Charter (SBC) in June 2014, a national accreditation awarded by small businesses to business schools who excel in supporting SMEs and the local economy.

Coronavirus has put untold pressure on directors and CEOs of small companies trying to navigate unchartered waters. According to a recent McKinsey online survey of UK SMEs, 80 percent of small businesses reported their revenues were declining in June in 2020.

The Government has made up to £30 billion available to support economic recovery ahead of the Autumn and businesses can continue to draw upon a range of financial support during this challenging time, including loans, tax deferrals and cash grants. The SBLP will help businesses to bounce back from the impact of coronavirus and prepare for any future disruption.

The practical syllabus provides business leaders with access to small business and management experts from Aston Business School The Small Business Leadership Programme is free and fully funded by the Government to enhance small business resilience and recovery from the impact of COVID-19 and develop potential for future growth and productivity. 

The short and focused programme will be delivered online through a structured course of eight 90-minute webinars over the course of 10 weeks and will provide the knowledge needed for businesses to tackle crisis situations. It will also give businesses the opportunity to strengthen their business network.  Participants will develop strategic leadership skills and the confidence to make informed decisions to boost business performance.

Anne Kiem, OBE, CEO of Chartered Association of Business Schools and executive director of the Small Business Charter said: “As we continue to grapple with the Coronavirus crisis it is also essential we look long term to ensure small businesses are supported to build resilience, survival and growth. Business schools can provide the expertise and knowledge all business owners and directors need to continue to thrive in uncertain times.” 

Paul Scully, small business minister said: “The strength of small businesses up and down the country will be vital as we begin to bounce back from coronavirus and re-build our economy. The Small Business Leadership Programme will help to equip small business leaders with the leadership and problem-solving skills they need to grow their firms in the wake of this pandemic.” 

Paula Whitehouse, associate dean enterprise at Aston Business School said:
“Aston Business School has a proven track record of working with SMEs in the Midlands to help them achieve high growth, and we are delighted to be part of the Small Business Charter consortium delivering this innovative national programme. Through our participation in the Small Business Leadership Programme we will help SME owners to become more resilient, evaluate their business model and develop a plan to protect and grow their business through the turbulent times ahead.”



Notes to editors

About The Small Business Charter

The Small Business Charter is a national accreditation awarded by small businesses to business schools who excel in supporting small businesses, student enterprise, and the local economy. The Small Business Leadership Programme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. Data on the impact of the programme on the participating small businesses will be gathered and used to inform future policy and interventions for small businesses.

Programme details:

·       The programme will begin in September 2020

·       There will be 100 cohorts throughout England beginning between September 2020 and January 2021

·       Registrations must be received before December 2020 

·       The programme will be open to 2,000 business across the country

·       It is a free fully funded business programme

·       For more details and to register, visit:


Eligibility criteria

1.       To join the Small Business Leadership Programme, your business must:

·       Be a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise (SME) based in England

·       From any business sector, employing between 5 and 249 people

·       Have been operational for at least one year

·       The participant should be a decision maker or member of the senior management team within the business eg Chief Executive, Finance Director etc with at least one person reporting directly to them

·       Participants will be required to complete all sessions

2.       If you meet the eligibility criteria, it is quick and easy to apply for the programme.

3.       If this programme isn’t right for you, please also see the Peer Networks Scheme.

Handle and Hashtag:

@SmallBizCharter           #SmallBizLeaders


About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive.

For media enquiries in relation to this release, contact Rebecca Hume, Press and PR Officer, on 07557 745416 or email

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