Graduation of 10,000 Small Businesses programme cohort

Goldman Sachs

26 September 2013

Aston University is proud to announce the graduation of the fourth Midlands cohort of small business and social enterprise leaders from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme. Classes for the fifth cohort begin this week, and recruitment for the sixth cohort has now started.

The programme, which also operates in Yorkshire, the North West and London, is designed to boost local economic growth and job creation through providing a combination of targeted, high quality, practical business education and support services to small businesses and social enterprises from across the Midlands region.

Participants received their certificates at a dinner in Birmingham on 18th September. Businesses in the fourth cohort represented a wide range of sectors, including manufacturing, business services, security, education and automotive. They ranged in size from approximately £200,000 in turnover to over £4 million. They were recruited from across the Midlands, including Birmingham, Solihull, Lichfield, Daventry and Peterborough.

Professor Mark Hart from Aston Business School, a globally recognised expert in entrepreneurship and small business performance, is the academic lead for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses programme in the Midlands. He stated “The participants graduating represent a major success story for small businesses in the Midlands as they embark upon the next stage of their growth in some of the worst trading conditions for many decades. Aston Business School has supported the development of their business opportunities, projected to deliver significant additional jobs, profitable revenues and household incomes for local communities across the region in the next 3 years. These participants will be added to our growing network of small business owners and social enterprise leaders set to play an important role in the economic recovery of this region.”

The graduates in the fourth Midlands class include the following:

Richard Toy, Group Managing Director of Rail Safety Solutions Ltd, provides track warning systems to protect workers on the rail infrastructure, safety critical and contingent track labour, along with fencing, lighting and a safe system of work planning. Since joining the programme Rail Safety Solutions have taken on over 100 members of new staff and contractors and recently relocated to new offices in Aston, Birmingham.

Alison Duff, Founding Director of Calmababy Ltd, a one of a kind centre in the UK offering classes for pregnancy, birth, babies and young children. Since joining the programme Calmababy has increased staff numbers by 20 percent, expanded current operations and have plans in place to expand operations both regionally and nationally.

Talking about her experience Alison Duff said "10,000 Small Businesses has been both challenging and rewarding. As a direct result of attending the programme real change has taken place both within the business, and myself as the business leader. It has been instrumental in clarifying our direction and vision for the future"

Applications are currently open for the sixth cohort of the programme in the Midlands, which will take place between March and July 2014.

The programme is designed to provide high quality, practical and focused support for the leaders of small businesses and social enterprises who are seeking to grow their business. It is open to businesses from across the Midlands and participation is by application to Aston Business School. Successful candidates benefit from the following:

  • a structured, practical learning experience focused on the challenges faced by growing small businesses

  • multiple sources of high quality advice and guidance as they develop a customised growth plan to serve as the roadmap for the business’s future growth
  • joining a group of 25 to 30 selected small business leaders who form a trusted network that provides peer-to-peer support, challenge and guidance to one another in an open, constructive and dynamic learning environment

  • the opportunity to join a growing network of business leaders from across the UK

Preview events for the sixth cohort are taking place in October and November 2013. This will provide an opportunity for leaders of small businesses and social enterprises in the Midlands to learn more about the 10,000 Small Businesses programme and how to apply, as well as hearing from past participants about their experience. Further information on the preview events and application materials for the programme can be obtained by email from, by phoning 0121 204 3225 or through the following link:

Notes to Editors

10,000 Small Businesses UK
10,000 Small Businesses UK is an initiative to unlock the growth and job creation potential of small businesses and social enterprises across the United Kingdom through providing the resources they need to grow, including greater access to business education and business support services. It is based on the broadly held view of leading experts that a combination of education and support services best addresses the barriers to growth for small businesses.

The programme is based on an innovative and successful approach to supporting entrepreneurs, as developed through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women initiative and the 10,000 Small Businesses programme launched in the United States in 2009. A programme tailored specifically for the UK market was brought to Yorkshire in 2010 and then to the North West of England in 2011, the Midlands in autumn 2011 and London in early 2012. Programme partners include Saïd Business School (University of Oxford), Leeds University Business School, Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, Aston University Business School and University College London.

10,000 Small Businesses in the UK is funded by Goldman Sachs and the Goldman Sachs Foundation.

Aston Business School, Aston University is renowned for the quality of its innovative learning and teaching, world leading research and for having a friendly and supportive culture. The School has strong business links, and offers life-transforming experiences that make a real difference to organisations, economies and the global society. Aston Business School is committed to helping small businesses realise their potential through dedicated services which are specifically tailored to meet their needs. The School also delivers cutting edge entrepreneurial research (especially on high growth firms) and is home to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor UK project and jointly hosts the new national Enterprise Research Centre with Warwick University.

Saïd Business School
Established in 1996 the Saïd Business School is one of Europe’s youngest and most entrepreneurial business schools with a reputation for innovative business education. An integral part of Oxford University, the School embodies the academic rigour and forward thinking that has made Oxford a world leader in education and research. The School has an established reputation for research in a wide range of areas, including finance and accounting, organisational analysis, international management, strategy and operations management. The School is dedicated to developing a new generation of business leaders and entrepreneurs and conducting research not only into the nature of business, but the connections between business and the wider world. In the Financial Times European Business School ranking (Dec 2011) Saïd is ranked 10th. It is ranked number one in the UK (11th worldwide) in the FT’s combined ranking of Executive Education programmes (May 2011) and 20th in the world in the FT ranking of MBA programmes (Jan 2012). The Oxford MSc in Financial Economics is ranked 4th in the world in the 2011 FT ranking of Masters in Finance programmes (June 2011). In the UK university league tables it is ranked first of all UK universities for undergraduate business and management in The Guardian (May 2011) and has ranked first in eight of the last nine years in The Times. For more information, see

Media contact:
David Farrow
0121 204 4887