Virgin Money expands Levelling Upstarts Programme to support small businesses

Virgin Money
Virgin Money
Kami White
by Kami White
11 January 2023

Virgin Money is expanding its first-of-its-kind Levelling Upstarts programme, which partners small-medium sized businesses (SMEs) with MBA and Masters students to help founders overcome the unique challenges their businesses face.

In 2022, the Levelling Upstarts programme brought together 40 business owners with over 200 MBA and masters students from Aston and Leeds Universities in a series of insightful digital workshops. The 2023 programme will be even bigger to also include students at the University of Strathclyde and Newcastle University.

Virgin Money’s purpose is to make people happier about money, and it has a long history of helping businesses to thrive amid difficult times. The team wants to help SMEs overcome the different challenges they face, which is what inspired the Levelling Upstarts Programme. Every business has its own unique obstacles, from building brand awareness, to honing a competitive advantage, or selling into new markets. By giving business owners this unique access to the knowledge and insights of MBA and Masters students, they can receive the best advice and recommendations for their particular business.

When announcing the 2023 programme expansion, Kash Ahmed, Head of Business Banking at Virgin Money, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of our local economies and are key to helping our communities to level up. However, we know that the cost of doing business has become a significant concern for businesses, impacting their ability to plan longer term.

“The Levelling Upstarts programme allows businesses to get focused, comprehensive and tangible support, by pooling the resources of talented business students, to help them think outside of the box, while simultaneously giving students valuable and transferable skills.”

Sound interesting? Any business with less than 250 employees can apply to take part in the programme – they don’t need to be a Virgin Money customer. The workshops will take place online to remove location barriers too 

Applications for the 2023 programme open on 10 January and will run until 31 May. Businesses that want to join the programme should email for further information.