A recording studio in Glasgow and a cycle repair shop in Sutherland are among the 3,300 businesses that have been created by entrepreneurial Scots who have moved from claiming benefits to becoming their own boss.
As part of the government’s plan to back small businesses, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) offers expert mentoring and financial support to people on Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents and people on sickness benefits who want to start up their own business.
Last month the Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael hosted an event to congratulate together with North Lanarkshire, South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and Glasgow City councils some of the those entrepreneurs who have flourished thanks to the scheme.
New figures released today show that the NEA scheme continues to go from strength to strength. 3,300 businesses have been created in Scotland and across the UK, 2,000 businesses a month have been created over the past year. In total 46,000 businesses have been established since 2011.
Mr Carmichael said:
It is great to see this innovative scheme is helping thousands of jobseeking Scots build a career and fulfil their ambitions.
Scotland’s economy is continuing to grow, we have a record number of Scots in employment, more women in work than ever before and businesses being created across the country. This shows working together as part of the UK creates better opportunities and more secure jobs in Scotland.
The NEA is available to people over 18 who are claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, lone parents on Income Support, or people on Employment and Support Allowance in the work-related activity group.
People on the scheme get expert help and advice from a business mentor who will help them to develop their business idea and write a business plan. If the business plan is approved, they are eligible for financial support payable through a weekly allowance over 26 weeks up to a total of £1,274. Participants can also access a loan through the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills start-up loan scheme.
Mentors also continue to give the budding entrepreneurs on-going support during the early months of trading.
Helen Fraser, Nails by Helen from East Dunbartonshire
Helen, built on her experience working in a nail bar and used the knowledge she gained by observing other technicians to make her business dream a reality.
I had technical knowledge but no business experience which is where NEA came in to play. They helped me with funding and supported me in making an achievable business plan. Without their help, I would have been lost. I am grateful for their belief in me and the foundations they gave me to build my business.
Sami Omar, Afillion Studios from Glasgow
Afillion Studios is a rehearsal and recording space in the heart of Glasgow. Sami Omar embarked on a journey, which grew from passion for music, combined with knowledge gained through studying music.
I graduated from university and couldn’t find a job. On the Job Centre Plus website, I found a link to NEA; beginning my journey towards opening my business.
My Jobs & Business Glasgow mentor helped me every step of the way, including putting together a business plan. Through NEA, JBG, Business Gateway, Prince’s Trust & Glasgow City Council I gathered funds to buy equipment, renovate premises, setup the website and for promotion.
Maureen Luby – Glossa Services from South Lanarkshire
Glossa Services specialises in proofreading, teaching English as a foreign language and translating Greek to English. Maureen’s journey began when her Jobcentre Plus adviser referred her to Business Gateway for advice on setting up in business.
I attended many of Business Gateway courses and took something from all of them: time management and the ability to prioritise tasks in particular. The NEA loan helped me purchase a computer and other equipment essential to my business. Meetings with my NEA mentor were of great help to me, especially with my business plan. The support I received was excellent.
Ewan Gilmour – Clicks Convert from South Lanarkshire
Ewan got involved in digital marketing in 1997 at the start of the dot com boom. After years of running his own online business, Ewan expanded upon his business by working with digital marketing agencies.
NEA helped me at a critical time to set up my digital marketing agency. After discovering a gap in the market, I decided to offer International Search Engine Optimisation and Pay Per Click Management. With the support we’ve received, Clicks Convert has been able to branch out – now joined by Cristina Ballesteros, a digital marketing veteran of 15 years, Clicks Convert has started a multilingual web store for an Organic Farm in Spain. With clients in Scotland, Spain and Holland, Clicks Convert has enjoyed a wonderful blooming in their first year of trading. We’d like to thank you for all the support!
Catchfish Social Media prepare and launch social media campaigns connecting businesses to new customers. Billy started his business after being made redundant.
My first step was to visit my local Business Gateway where I was advised on the benefits of NEA and how it could help me launch and grow my business. The tutorial classes and mentoring were second to none. Over the course of a few weeks, I learned how to formulate a solid business plan, project cash flow and market my business,” he said.
Bill Duncan was assigned as my mentor; he went the extra mile to ensure my business was in good stead for a quick launch. He kept me grounded and helped me set realistic ambitions. I couldn’t be thankful enough for the help and advice he gave.
Sam Somerville from Golspie, Sutherland
Sam Somerville has put his lifelong passion of cycling and tinkering with bikes into a new business, with help from Jobcentre Plus. Sam has set up a new business, called Sam’s bike shed, which repairs, rebuilds and services bicycles.
I’m very excited about this new start as it will allow me to offer my services to the community and surrounding area by repairing bikes. This is something that I have always wanted to do and with no job prospects in East Coast Sutherland I then took the opportunity in starting my own business.
When I was unemployed I contacted local charity Blythswood Care to see if they required a bike mechanic. At that time they had no openings so I offered my services as a volunteer. Gradually I began to do more volunteer work and I let them know I was setting up a repair service. We came to an agreement and I am now the bike mechanic for Blythswood Care who put their serviced, repaired and rebuilt bikes for resale in their shops.
So far the business is going great. I have regular work from Blythswood Care and I am building up a customer base in my local and surrounding area. I’m sure once the summer months are coming and people tend to get their bikes out I’ll be able to get more bikes to service and repair.