By Andrew Haigh, Managing Partner, Coutts

Cranfield School of Management has joined forces with Coutts & Co to offer a bursary scheme to help ambitious social entrepreneurs participate in the world-renowned Business Growth and Development Programme (BGP) at Cranfield this autumn.

In businesses where profit is not necessarily the primary motive, the level of financial investment required to participate in the BGP can be a constraint. Coutts is therefore leading this bursary scheme which will provide up to five social entrepreneurs with a substantial contribution towards the cost of participating in the programme. This is the second time that Coutts has contributed to the scheme which previously saw two social entrepreneurs, Jason Holt of Holts Gems and Uday Thakker of Red Ochre, go through the programme.

We are delighted to build upon our long-standing relationship with Cranfield and support this excellent programme by focussing on the entrepreneurs most in need of financial support. The programme so far has nurtured some fabulous talent and we look forward to supporting and seeing the results of those who take up these bursary places.

BGP is the UK’s leading programme for ambitious owner managers and has run every year since 1988. Since then, Cranfield has helped over 1,100 owner managers to achieve their business and personal ambitions. Participants benefit from the programme’s unique blend of academic input, practical support and peer learning. Many have gone on to grow their businesses into national brands such as Cobra Beer, Hotel Chocolat and GoApe! Two of the best-known social enterprises who have completed the BGP, Alara Foods and the Phone Co-Op, were finalists in the UK National Business Awards 2009.

Uday Thacker, Managing Director of Red Ochre, a successful social enterprise that provides consultancy and training support to the Third Sector, started on the programme with a Coutts bursary in January 2010.

He said: “I learnt a considerable amount from the lecturers but even more so from my fellow participants. After being encouraged to actively involve my team in the process, we have all benefited and our collective performance and effectiveness has increased a great deal. To me, there were at least two transformational moments which made a fundamental change to my thinking and approach. For this alone, the programme was worth the investment of time, money and energy. Cranfield says that the programme is unique. It is. Can it benefit social entrepreneurs? Absolutely. I believe that social entrepreneurs need to be exposed to best business practice and this programme will help those on it make a massive step change for the better. I also have to say many thanks to Coutts for facilitating my participation and also for the continued interest and support that the Bank is giving to social enterprise."

BGP Programme Director, David Molian, said: “We are very grateful to Coutts for their support which will help social entrepreneurs overcome the financial constraint that has prevented some from taking part in the past. We are specifically looking for owners of social enterprises that have been through the start-up phase and have a business model that clearly works but are looking to grow and develop rapidly.”

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