A £2.2 million programme aimed at supporting hundreds of budding entrepreneurs from under-represented groups in Cornwall was unveiled yesterday.
Outset Cornwall, funded by ERDF Convergence and the South West Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), was officially launched to key partners and the business community with an event at the Keay Theatre in St Austell.
Guests heard how the Outset Cornwall team aims to support 185 people in setting up their own businesses and create 280 jobs over the next three years.
The intensive business start up programme is being delivered by business development company YTKO, which has recruited a team of experienced advisors from within the county to roll out the project.
Kate McEwen, programme manager, said: “It’s our policy to build strong local teams. We know from experience of working with under-represented clients that this local knowledge will work to create superb local businesses.
“We aim to give our clients a co-ordinated and seamless service by creating strong partnerships with other business support services.”
So far, almost 90 clients have signed up to Outset Cornwall and more than 100 have attended information or taster sessions. Eight budding entrepreneurs have signed up to Outset’s Introduction to Enterprise training.
Under-represented groups include women, disabled, over 50s and ethnic minorities.
Support available through Outset Cornwall includes training sessions, one-to-one mentoring, practical workshops such as time management and juggling finances plus some start up funding once the programme has been completed.
Bev Hurley, chief executive of YTKO, said all of the support offered by Outset Cornwall is focussed on the clients’ needs: She explained: “The barriers for people from under-represented groups are well-researched and documented but it doesn’t mean that we know how those people feel.
“We always start with information sessions, have a chat and tell them about the programme. People get the opportunity to just come along and find out if enterprise could be the route for them.”
Stephen Bohane, Head of Business Development for SWRDA in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, said: “Entrepreneurial spirit is deep-seated within the county and Outset Cornwall is an excellent project which will be identifying and developing our future business leaders.
“The team of talented and experienced business advisors at YTKO will be providing very focused support to grow promising ideas into successful businesses.”
Carleen Kelemen, Director of the Convergence Partnership Office for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, added: “Outset is aimed at helping to remove barriers presented to some people as they endeavour to start, run and expand successful businesses.
“It is one of a series of ERDF Convergence investments offering a variety of additional business support to accelerate the growth of business activity in our economy.”