Press Release | 02 Nov 2021

Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett partners with Vodafone to reach more small business owners with vital digital skills training

The business.connected program has already provided free guidance to 46,000 small businesses.

  • Vodafone recruits leading entrepreneur and newest BBC Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett to reach more small businesses that will benefit from the business.connected free training initiative
  • The program has so far provided free guidance to 46,000 small businesses, and Vodafone has today increased its commitment by a further 50,000 – with the aim of providing help to 150,000 small businesses in total by summer 2022
  • The business.connected initiative is now expanding, with Cisco set to provide exclusive training courses

Vodafone has today revealed entrepreneur and new BBC Dragons’ Den star Steven Bartlett as an ambassador for its vital small business training initiative. Steven will play an instrumental role in creating awareness of Vodafone’s business.connected program, a joint commitment with leading small business support network Enterprise Nation to deliver free business training to 150,000 small businesses through the V-Hub by Vodafone SME support website.

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 leading small business support network Enterprise Nation. It provides 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 website and cover everything from setting up a business online, to digital marketing, and cybersecurity.

Having started his own successful business at just 22 years old, 29-year-old Steven will provide valuable insights into managing an online business, and the importance of small business owners enhancing their digital capabilities to unlock opportunities. Steven recently shared his own journey of resilience, describing what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur on Vodafone’s Business Unusual podcast in the hope of inspiring the next wave of UK entrepreneurs.

Steven Bartlett, entrepreneur and business.connected Ambassador, 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’s business.connected campaign hopes to do exactly that, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store.”

As the country looks towards a future of work that is defined by technology, it is imperative that small businesses are supported with the digital skills they’ll need to help them survive and thrive, post-pandemic – especially with the end of government support from initiatives such as the furlough scheme.

Offering a vast array of e-learning business modules, business.connected 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-ten sign-ups to the programme.

Cisco joins business.connected program

Having supported more than 46,000 small businesses to date, the business.connected initiative is well on its way to achieving its goals. Vodafone has confirmed Cisco is joining the business.connnected initiative as a new partner to deliver digital training. This training will cover everything from managing digital security to helping business owners choose the right connectivity options. Cisco will also participate in business.connected webinars and workshops.

Andrew Stevens, Head of Small Business, Vodafone UK said: “We are delighted to welcome Steven as an ambassador. 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.

“It’s been great to see the business.connected initiative gaining momentum and proving a real catalyst for SME growth. We’re excited to be helping our nation’s bustling small business sector and to be extending our initial goals to now look to support 150,000 SMEs by next summer, thanks to our new partnership with Cisco.”

Emma Jones, CEO and Founder, Enterprise Nation said: ‘It is clear from the levels of engagement we have seen with business.connected that the thirst for digital education and training in the small business community remains strong. Founders are looking for top tip content on how to implement technology and they want to hear from fellow business owners too. This programme answers those calls and will continue to deliver what small businesses are asking us for, evidenced by searches on the Enterprise Nation platform and business owners voting with their feet through attending events.”

Aine Rogers, Director of Small Business, Cisco UK & Ireland said: “The last year and a half has shown us exactly how important accessible resources and tools are for businesses to stay connected, particularly in the SME community. With Vodafone and business.connected, we’re excited to be helping to provide businesses with key insights and information through bespoke e-learning training modules, webinars and workshops to help businesses manage their digital security and optimise their connectivity.”

Find out more about Vodafone business.connected and the courses on offer.


About Vodafone UK

Vodafone UK is a technology communications company that connects people, businesses and devices to help our customers benefit from digital innovation. Our services span mobile, fixed-line connections, home and office broadband, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

We have a strong track record as a tech pioneer, making the UK’s first mobile phone call, sending the first text message, and making the UK’s first live holographic call using 5G in 2018. We were the first to start carrying live 5G traffic from a site in Salford, Greater Manchester and now have 5G in locations across Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain as well as the UK. Meanwhile, our 4G network coverage currently reaches over 99% of the UK population.

Today, Vodafone serves more than 18 million mobile and fixed-line customers in the UK. Vodafone is the largest provider of full fibre in the UK – our superfast broadband services are now available to nearly 12 million homes across the UK.

Sustainability is also at the heart of what we do: as of 1 July 2021, 100% of the grid electricity we use in the UK is certified to be from renewable sources.

For more information about Vodafone UK, please visit:

Vodafone UK Media Relations

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