Dr Bahare Afrahi


As an innovation engineer, with both practical and academic knowledge and a strong background in innovation, entrepreneurship, and small business growth, I have a proven track record of developing and delivering successful innovative solutions for SMEs and educational institutions. My expertise lies in cultivating an environment where teams excel in their potential to innovate for humanity.

I possess collaboration, analytical, and problem-solving skills, enabling me to navigate ambiguity and uncertainty and together with my team, identify growth opportunities. My ability to cultivate innovation in teams has made me an effective leader. Moreover, my experience in initiating and leading impactful businesses, and, external projects with small and large teams has allowed me to drive various innovations to successful ventures while empowering my team members to perform at their best.

I am particularly passionate about experiments and thinking behind the design, believing that humanity-centred approach to problem-solving is the way forward. I have successfully applied this approach in various fields, including entrepreneurship, owner managers health and well-being, and education, where it has helped identify unmet needs and create innovative solutions.

Employee engagement is a critical factor for business success, and my expertise combined with design thinking in this area allows me to design strategies that improve productivity, commitment, and creativity. My academic expertise in entrepreneurs' health and well-being for their business success combined with design thinking allowed me to help entrepreneurs develop innovative solutions that address their unique health and well-being needs. The wellness programmes I recently designed with my team have catered to owner managers physical, mental, and emotional health needs.

I am proud to have led the 4 Million SME Growth Programme, a flagship initiative aimed at supporting small businesses to grow and scale. This program has helped over 500 entrepreneurs to achieve their business goals and create sustainable growth since 2020.

My latest effort. Innovation Playground is bringing about a responsible future in education. I have founded the Innovation Playground, a platform that connects entrepreneurs with learners, allowing them to access the resources they need to succeed. This platform has created a supportive ecosystem for innovation and entrepreneurship, enabling many entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

I am open to collaborative ideas and am accepting PhD candidates that are interested in Design Thinking, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. If my profile resonates with you, and makes you excited about building a better future, then please send a short and focused proposal and include your CV to b.afrahi@kingston.ac.uk and I get back to you.

Academic responsibilities

Reader in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management - Course Director Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Programme Director Help to Grow Management


  • PhD in Entrepreneurship (University of Essex)
  • MSc in Research Business (University of Liverpool)
  • MBA in Marketing-Finance (Hanken School of Economics)
  • Fellowship of Higher Education Academy (HEAF)
  • Certified Management & Business Educator
  • Coaching Certificate
  • Innovation Champion (Stanford University)

Teaching and learning

As a strategic leader in the field of entrepreneurship and innovation, I am committed to providing high-quality teaching that benefits students and contributes to the development of knowledge in the subject. With expertise in design thinking and experiential learning, I design, develop, and evaluate courses that keep students up to date with the latest trends and insights in the field.

My aim is to empower students to achieve their full potential by creating innovative teaching activities and personalised learning experiences. I constantly seek out new approaches to teaching and learning, including the use of AI in my modules to provide students with the resources and tools they need to improve their outcomes.

In addition to my teaching responsibilities, I am committed to contributing to knowledge development in my subject. By staying informed about the latest trends and insights in entrepreneurship and innovation, I am able to contribute to the development of subject material and build professional networks in my areas of expertise.

Examples of my contributions to knowledge exchange and development are Innovation Playground, the widely recognised global PhD training that I have initiated the British Academy of Management (BAM), and the Help to Grow Management Programme for SME owners.  

Qualifications and expertise

  • Design Thinking
  • Innovation for Humanity
  • User Experience (UX)
  • Stanford University Teaching and Learning Innovation Certified
  • Fellow of Higher Education Academy
  • Teaching from Back of the Room

Undergraduate courses taught

Postgraduate courses taught


I research and write about entrepreneurial exit decisions and different strategies that entrepreneurs pursue to leave the venture, i.e. voluntary cessation, harvesting, and stewardship exit strategies. I am also interested in health and well-being and the benefits of work disengagement as a cognitive choice or as a coping mechanism. So the variables and conditions that influence entrepreneurs' feelings for their business such as, co-founders' interactions and support and diversity in entrepreneurial management teams. I am interested in the applications of Structural Equation Modelling and teach it from time to time.


Best Paper Award:

*2017 Best Full Paper Award in Organisational Psychology at British Academy of Management Conference. 

*2017 Best Full Paper Award from Australian Organisation of Employees' Health and Wellbeing.

Current PhD students

  • Unisa Dizo-Conteh (2020)
  • Sopreye Thompson (2021)
  •  Andre Mostert (2021)
  • Niki Richards (2022)

Qualifications and expertise

  • Structural Equation Modelling
  • FDS
  • Data Visualisation

Areas of specialism

  • Business Exit
  • Work Disengagement - Work Engagement
  • Entrepreneurs Health and Well-being

Scholarly affiliations

  • External examiner, Birkbeck, University of London
  • British Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Group
  • Academy of Management Entrepreneurship Group

Research student supervision


Number of items: 11.


Afrahi, Bahare, Blenkinsopp, John, Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos and Karim, Mohammed Shamsul (2022) Work disengagement : a review of the literature. Human Resource Management Review, 32(2), p. 100822. ISSN (print) 1053-4822

Conference or Workshop Item

Afrahi, Bahare (2020) Emotional closure and entrepreneurial exit. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2020 : Innovating for a Sustainable Future; 02-04 Sept 2020, Manchester, U.K.. (British Academy of Management Proceedings)

Afrahi, Bahare and Blackburn, Robert (2020) Emotion and business exit. In: 80th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management; 07 - 11 Aug 2020, Held online.

Afrahi, Bahare (2020) Emotional closure and entrepreneurial exit. In: 11th Annual Faculty Research Conference: Contemporary Issues in Business and Social Science Research; 22 Jun 2020, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Afrahi, Bahare and Blackburn, Robert (2019) Entrepreneurs' exit strategies : the role of emotion. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2019 : Building and Sustaining High Performance Organisations in Uncertain Times : Challenges and Opportunities; 03 - 05 Sep 2019, Birmingham, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641327

Afrahi, Bahare, Blenkinsopp, J., Fernandez de Aroyabe, J. C. and Karim, M. S. (2019) In defence of disengaged worker. In: 10th Annual Faculty Research Conference: Contemporary Issues in Business and Social Sciences in a period of uncertainty; 03 - 04 Jun 2019, Kingston upon Thames, U.K.. (Unpublished)

Afrahi, Bahare, Karim, Mohammed Shamsul and Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos (2018) Entrepreneurs' emotional disengagement from business. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2018: Driving Productivity in Uncertain and Challenging Times; 04-06 Sep 2018, Bristol, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641310

Afrahi, Bahare, Karim, M. S. and Fernandes de Arroyabe, J.C. (2018) Effect of entrepreneurs’ emotional disengagement on entrepreneurial exit strategies. In: 38th Babson College Entrepreneurship Research Conference (BCERC); 6-9 Jun 2018, Waterford, Ireland. (Unpublished)

Afrahi, Bahare, Fernandez de Arroyabe, Juan Carlos and Karim, Mohammed Shamsul (2017) Work disengagement: a systematic review of the evidence. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) Conference 2017: Re-Connecting Management Research with the Disciplines: Shaping the Research Agenda for the Social Sciences; 05 -07 Sep 2017, Coventry, U.K.. ISBN 9780995641303

Afrahi, Bahare (2016) Entrepreneurs’ disengagement. In: British Academy of Management (BAM) 2016 Doctoral Symposium; 5 Sep 2016, Newcastle, U.K.. (Unpublished)


Afrahi, Bahare (2019) Disengagement and entrepreneurial exit. (PhD thesis), University of Essex, .

This list was generated on Sun Oct 1 07:41:57 2023 BST.

Business, knowledge transfer and international

  • Help to Grow 

 Help to Grow Management Programme, £4 million, funded by Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 

‘Help to Grow Management' project is funded by BEIS and is a growth programme for small business owners. It includes training, peer to peer knowledge transfer, and one to one business coaching. It helps the owner managers to develop the skills and the confidence to make difficult decisions about how to keep their enterprise afloat and boost growth and productivity.  

Help to Grow Management programme is a four-year funded project (2021- 2025) that not only generates over £4 million for Kingston University but also assists small business leaders in growing their businesses and allows us to carry industry project partnerships (two partnership projects have already received additional funding). Help to Grow Management program, has provided training to more than 350 business leaders across London and South Central in our first year of the project, and bringing over £2.5 million in income for Kingston University from August 2021 to January 2023. Within the programme we have been fostering commercial partnerships with BEIS, allocating resources, and planning the programme delivery.  

To date, we have provided training for more business leaders than any other university across the country, with over 350 business leaders trained under my leadership. Additionally, I am a member of the curriculum design that oversees the development of case studies for the Help to Grow Management Programme across the UK. 

Our success has been recognized through various achievements, such as a visit from the Small Business Minister Paul Scully and further funding for the industry partnership projects. I have also established networks of businessethatho approach Kingston University and each other for support and attracted guest lecturers from participating businesses for KU students.  

Programme Links: 

Help to Grow Programme:  https://kingstonuniversitybusinesstraining.com/  

Gov. campaign https://helptogrow.campaign.gov.uk/ 

Sample Kingston University news coverage: https://www.mylondon.news/special-features/kingstons-help-grow-management-more-25265117 

  • Small Business Leadership Programme 

 Small Business Leadership Programme, £870,000, funded by BEIS 

The Small Business Leadership programme (funded by BEIS) at Kingston University was run in 2020 and brought in £870K to the business school. We successfully recruited of 294 business owners, and organized 12 cohorts, the most among the consortium members, over five months. This directly supported 294 business leaders and senior management team members from 260 companies. The condensed, 10-week programme was delivered online and included a mix of workshops, mentoring, and group work, providing opportunities for businesses to expand their networks and explore key topics such as leadership, innovation, employee engagement, operational efficiency, marketing, sustainable practices, and finance. Through the programme, entrepreneurs were able to improve their business resilience and recover from the impacts of Covid-19, while also developing capabilities for future growth and productivity.  

Programme Links: 

Small Business Leadership Programme  https://smallbusinesscharter.org/small-business-leadership-programme/   

Sample Kingston University news coverage https://www.kingston.ac.uk/news/article/2412/10-nov-2020-kingston-university-supports-small-businesses-hit-by-covid19-pandemic-by-delivering-governmentfunded-leadership-programme/ 

  • Business Basics 

Business Basics Programme was another BEIS-funded project aimed at assisting 25 local businesses in adapting to digital technology. The project was a success, bringing in £50,000 to Kingston Business School over four months.  

Through the Business Basics Programme, we were  able to demonstrate the positive impact of personalized mentoring for micro businesses. Participating businesses were able to achieve their goals and priorities because of the one to one mentoring. This project helped to support the re-accreditation of the Small Business Charter, showcasing Kingston Business School's commitment to community partnership, knowledge exchange, and management knowledge. Also, this initial success led to further funding opportunities, including the Small Business Leadership Programme and the Help to Grow Management Project. 

Impact Summary 

A summary account of the impact generated by the activity and how the impact was achieved. No complicated text formatting is possible. Word limit: 200  

The impact of the Business Basics for the participating businesses was universally positive to participating businesses based on achieving (or contributing to the achievement) of business goals identified at the beginning of the programme.   

The impact of the Business Basics Kingston Business School was demonstrating the positive impact of personalised mentoring for microbusinesses in these businesses achieving their priorities and goals. The programme also supported the re-accreditation of Small Business Charter, demonstrating the school's community partnership, knowledge exchange, and management knowledge partnership.   

  • What else?  The Small Business Leadership, Help to Grow, and Business Basics projects have had a direct impact on the learning and employability of our students, who have gained valuable placements and consulting experience working with local businesses. Through these programmes, our students have developed the management capabilities needed to exploit the potential of people and digital technologies, analysed costs and benefits to make informed decisions, maximised the benefits of digital and new technology to increase productivity, and encouraged innovation and improved employee engagement within their businesses. 

The followings include students' feedback and evidence.  




Qualifications and PROFESSIONAL expertise

  • Project Leadership
  • Project management
  • Entrepreneur in Residence
  • Small Business Solutions

Professional practice, knowledge exchange and impact

2023. Better Health, Better Business. Entrepreneurs' recovery from work. Impact Case Study. 

2023. The Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey (GUESSS). Impact Case Study. 

2019. International Review of the Features and Functioning of Digital Business Diagnostic Tools: Supporting SME Productivity Growth and Inclusive Entrepreneurship This study for OECD, led by Robert Blackburn with Hang Do, and Bahare Afrahi, develops case studies of digital diagnostic tools for small business owners in four countries (UK, Ireland, France, and Australia).

2019. The Global University Entrepreneurial Spirit Students' Survey (GUESSS): Guesss is an international research project that examines the entrepreneurial intentions and activities of students using a geographical and temporal comparison. The eighth GUESSS edition was conducted in 2019 with 50 countries; more than 1000 universities, and more than 122,000 students took part. 

2019. Productive Entrepreneurship: The project highlighted a range of effective policy approaches to developing a broad base of productive startups throughout the economy. The report provided an overview of policy approaches that have stimulated productive entrepreneurship across sectors and territories through support programmes and policy reforms delivered by the central government, directly or through entrepreneurship support institutions, subnational governments and other intermediary organisations.

Qualifications and expertise

  • Quantitative Research
  • Data Analysis
  • Policy Impact

Professional and scholarly affiliations

  • Field Expert: UK parliament

Leadership and management

I am currently

• Leading the planning, design, organisation, and delivery of work-related learning in undergraduate and postgraduate programmes as the founder of Kingston University Innovation Playground, and Director of Help to Grow Management.

• Working with our employability, placement, business development, and students' teams on future skills curriculum to help prepare students for the job market and entrepreneurship alike, through SMEs collaborative projects, hands-on work experience in user experience, design thinking, and other entrepreneurship-related modules within Kingston Business School and across various degrees. Also, curating opportunities for external people and companies to get involved with the school through the partnership collaboration with renowned Stanford University d.School and other higher institutions across the world (latest initiative).

• Leading the introduction and development of new educational initiatives that support learning and teaching and incorporating them into best practice through the Growth project, a 4-year government-funded user-driven and design-thinking-led project to help business leaders innovate that brought over £4 million to Kingston University.

• Leading the Help to Grow Management Programme, which has delivered leadership and management skills training to over 500 UK SME owner-managers since 2020.• Providing high-quality teaching in business subject areas through undergraduate and postgraduate teaching activities, as well as professional courses taught, including Innovation, Organisation Design and Agile Teams, High-Performance Organisations, and Innovation for Autistic Entrepreneurs. My current students' feedback has been above 4.5/5, and I have won the 'friendliest staff award' by students across the university.

• Supervising PhD, MSc, and Undergraduate students and providing guidance on academic and pastoral issues.• Currently serving as an external examiner for Birkbeck University London (MSc Innovation and MSc Marketing) and for the National Commission for Further and Higher Education in Malta.

Social media

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