Vodafone has unveiled entrepreneur and new BBC Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett as an ambassador for its small business training initiative. He will play an instrumental role in creating awareness of Vodafone’s business.connected program, a joint commitment with small business support network, Enterprise Nation, to deliver free business training to 150,000 small businesses as part of the V-Hub by Vodafone SME support platform.
Launched in May 2021, business.connected was created with the aim of helping 100,000 small businesses enhance their digital capabilities by summer 2022. Based on the success of the program so far, Vodafone has increased that target to 150,000. The initiative is a joint venture by Vodafone and Enterprise Nation, providing free, expert training to small businesses to help them adopt technology, boost digital skills and stay safe online. Courses are accessed through the Vodafone V-Hub and cover everything from setting up a business online, to digital marketing, and cybersecurity.
Vodafone said the courses are resonating particularly well with the UK’s SoHo (Small Office, Home Office) community – defined as those businesses with one to nine employees – who currently account for nine in 10 sign-ups to the programme.
Having started his own successful business at the age of 22 years, Bartlett, now 29, will provide insights into managing an online business, and the importance of small business owners enhancing their digital capabilities to unlock opportunities. He recently shared his own journey of resilience, describing what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur on Vodafone’s Business Unusual podcast with the hope of inspiring the next wave of UK entrepreneurs.
He said: “I am so proud to be working with Vodafone as an ambassador. The business world, especially now, is moving quickly and this isn’t going to stop anytime soon. It’s important that businesses adopt a ‘designed for change’ ethic and keep up with emerging trends. I also know first-hand that making the most of the digital tools that are available to you and your business can really make a difference – not only when it comes to growing your business, but also when it comes to building your ambition, passion and confidence to continue doing what you love.”
Vodafone has also confirmed that Cisco is joining the business.connnected initiative as a new partner to deliver digital training. The training will cover everything from managing digital security to helping business owners choose the right connectivity options. Cisco will also take part in business.connected webinars and workshops.
“We are delighted to welcome Steven as an ambassador,” said Andrew Stevens, Head of Small Business at Vodafone UK. “He has amazing experience in building a successful company from scratch, and he’s a source of inspiration for our SME community. A strong foundation of digital skills will be crucial for small business owners to compete and succeed in a post-Covid landscape, especially as many business owners remain short on time and knowledge when it comes to leveraging the right digital tools.”