Business Gateway has helped 52 out-of-work entrepreneurs set up thriving enterprises in the Borders in the last year.
Since November last year, 29 men and 23 women who were out of work, but had a business idea, were given assistance to become their own boss after being referred to the business advisory service by the Job Centre, through the New Enterprise Allowance Scheme (NEA).
Covering the spectrum of sectors, the businesses include: a gardener & handyman; an event organiser; a cleaning company; a massage therapist; a mobile phone repair shop; a catering company, and an artist.
The majority (70 per cent) of those referred to Business Gateway Scottish Borders were looking to set up an enterprise after redundancy.
Bartje Magee, business adviser, Business Gateway said: “We are delighted that our assistance has helped a great number of local people facing unemployment realise they have the potential and skills necessary to set up their own business.
Having access to one-to-one support, free workshops and networking opportunities, as well as potential financial support through the NEA, has provided a safety net and given them the confidence needed to become self-employed, which many had never considered as a viable option before.”
Steven Shann set up S.R.S. Rural Services three months ago after being referred to Business Gateway by the Job Centre during the summer.
Having been made redundant three times in four years, the Hawick-based entrepreneur now provides a range of services to his customers, including chimney sweeping, garden maintenance and general handyman duties.
The 37-year-old, former gardener and groundsman for the likes of the National Trust and two private estates, said: “When I was made redundant last year I thought ‘enough is enough’.
Although I knew exactly what I wanted to do, being referred to a business adviser and attending workshops helped me realise I was more than capable of going it alone.
I love working outdoors, it’s in my blood – my earliest memory is of my parents taking me to their allotment in a wheelbarrow – so being my own boss and getting to choose what work I do in the fresh air is fantastic.”
Having left her job as a website manager in West Lothian to relocate to the Borders at the start of this year, mother of four Carol Macintyre was signposted to Business Gateway and she decided to launch Everthine Events, based in Reston.
Since launching, the 48-year-old, who has previously owned her own bridal shop and worked in hospitality and IT, has ensured numerous brides have enjoyed a dream wedding; and with 24 weddings already booked for 2015, Carol Ann is now looking to open her first showroom.
She said: “I’d used Business Gateway services in my previous job, so the courses were a great refresher and my adviser gave me a lot of encouragement and kept me on track. The networking opportunities have also been fantastic. I did find it a bit daunting starting a business at my age in such a young industry – my target market is 25 to 35-year-old brides-to-be – but my experience has been a big selling point.
“I’m really passionate about what I do and with my diary quickly filling up for 2015 I am looking to open a showroom in the Borders to showcase the products I have that make a wedding day special.
As Business Gateway doesn’t forget about you once you’ve started, I am now looking to use their expertise to help me as I grow my business.”
Find out how Business Gateway can help your business by visiting www.bgateway.com, or call your local office on 01835 818315.
For more information, visit http://www.bgateway.com/local-offices/scottish-borders/ or @BGBorders on Twitter.