Mentoring for Growth Q&A

Mentoring for Growth is an innovative mentoring programme, taking mentors from the UK’s leading PLCs and matching them with high potential SME business leaders to support their ambitions for growth. The programme was piloted in 2018, and following evaluation had a 91% approval rating from participants. In October 2019 the programme was launched nationwide.

Jane Howells, Programme Director – Mentoring for Growth at Be The Business, explains more about how the programme can support SMEs to overcome challenges as they scale.

How is Mentoring for Growth different from other mentoring schemes?

There are many high quality programmes available, but I believe that Mentoring for Growth does have something unique to offer SMEs. Our mentors hold senior positions at some of the UK’s leading businesses, including BAE Systems, GSK, Siemens and McKinsey amongst others. Working with experienced executives from a variety of leading PLCs allows us to ensure that their specific skills and experience relate to the specific business challenges an SME manager might be facing. We feel that this approach enables the best chance of the mentoring relationship being successful for both mentors and mentees. Another attractive feature of the programme is that it is free of charge for SMEs.

Where does the programme operate?

Mentoring for Growth is offered throughout the country. Businesses can access the programme either directly via Be the Business or by contacting their local Growth Hub.

How can SMEs benefit from Mentoring for Growth?

Feedback from our SME mentees describe the main benefits as being able to:

  • Improve productivity within their business
  • Acquire insight from an experienced business leader​
  • Access a discussion partner to work through business challenges​
  • Gain assistance shaping strategy, organisation design and business planning​
  • Boost self confidence and motivation for change

Some of the strongest benefits have come from small, practical measures that can be implemented reasonably easily but have a significant positive impact on the business. Talking through the small changes with their mentors was the trigger for change.

Many mentees have used the support of their mentor to drive productivity throughout their business. Good practices implemented in one specific area of operations often transfer to other teams and processes, and this yields productivity gains throughout the company.

How can mentors benefit from participating in Mentoring for Growth?

Our mentors have told us of some of the benefits they receive from the programme:

  • Gain different perspectives of challenges and issues
  • Access insights into different industries and sectors
  • Bring enhanced, broadened skills, experiences and perspectives back into your organisation
  • Benefit from peer-to-peer learning through induction, events and webinars to improve and maximise their performance and effectiveness as a mentor

How are mentors matched with mentees?

We work in partnership The Growth Company to match mentors with mentees in each region. When an SME applies to the programme, they complete an online registration form giving details about their business and their ambitions for growth.  The mentor also fills in an online form, outlining their areas of expertise and ways in which they feel they can help.  The profiles are then matched, at first using an algorithm to find the best match across all those who have registered.  They are then contacted by a mentoring advisor who organises a chemistry meeting to ensure the mentor and mentee will gel.

Who can be involved?  

Mentoring for Growth aims to help deliver growth in SMEs and is ideally suited to businesses with more than 10 employees and a turnover of at least £2 million. Mentoring is available to support key-decision makers in the business; senior leads with the responsibility and authority to enable changes to happen rapidly to increase productivity and really gain the full benefit of the mentoring interaction.

If you’re interested in applying for the Mentoring for Growth programme, get in touch via or you can also register your interest directly via the mentoring platform: