As the Convergence-funded programme Outset Cornwall celebrates its first anniversary, it is a good time to ask; one year on, has this programme really worked?
Convergence-funded business support programmes have been the focus of many debates and discussions over the past year. And Outset Cornwall, a high-profile ‘Solutions for Business’ programme delivered by YTKO, is no exception.
It has certainly been busy, delivering a plethora of jargon-free accessible training, mentoring and events designed to support underrepresented groups within the county to start their own businesses.
And the feedback it has received has been positive. Outset Cornwall programme director Kate McEwen says: “In the past 12 months we have been astounded by the levels of engagement with the programme, from both clients and fellow service providers.”
“The Outset Cornwall team have made a real impact in the county over the last 12 months”
Delivered in an outreach style right across the county, Outset Cornwall ensures that the programme is accessible to members of the community in some of the most remote parts of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Small community venues have been utilised and local businesses engaged to offer specialist advice and guidance on a range of client requested topics.
Carleen Kelemen, director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, believes the programme has proved to be a great success. She says: “During its first year Outset Cornwall has helped many individuals to overcome personal barriers and to access practical support to monetarise their seedling business ideas.”
Anny Peachy from Business Link, one of Outset Cornwall’s key partners, agrees: She says: “Over the last year Outset Cornwall has been an invaluable partner for the Business Link Start-Up team. We refer people to Outset who call us with a great business idea, but have little or no experience of starting a business or those who appreciate extra support to overcome personal challenges to make their idea happen.”
Over 550 individuals have accessed the Outset Cornwall programme for support in the last 12 months, very often following a period of unemployment, redundancy, disability or ill-health.
It has also helped launch more than 50 new businesses – against a target of 29. And with a high recommendation rate from clients, it seems clear that the programme is well pitched and expertly delivered.
Jayne Tarasun, founder Flock Follies, reports: “I joined the Outset Cornwall programme in the New Year to help fill in the gaps in my knowledge of running and developing a business, and I found great support within the group. For the first time I have written a business plan, and I now feel focused and confident to make it all happen.”
Tony Sampson, founder of Newquay Home Electrics, adds: “The courses that Outset provided gave me confidence in my abilities to start a new business and the subsequent support was invaluable to the success of my business.”
YTKO’s CEO and founder of the Outset Cornwall programme, Bev Hurley, is delighted with how the first year has gone. She says: “The Outset Cornwall team have made a real impact in the county over the last 12 months, and developed strong relationships with a wide range of partners to ensure clients have the most comprehensive journey from business idea to business success.”
This article first appeared in the Dec 2010/Jan 2011 issue of Business Cornwall