Grants give youngsters a chance

GRANTS of up to £2,000 to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds start their own business are available through Dorset Community Foundation’s South West Enterprise Fund.
The foundation has partnered with businessman Nick Robinson and Giles Smallwood to launch the fund, which offers entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 the grants to help with buying stock or equipment or pay business-related rent or bills.
Applicants, who must live in Dorset and either be about to start a business within six months or have been trading for less than two years, have to present a business plan and answer questions about their ambitions at an interview.
Mr Robinson approached the community foundation with the idea after he realised that although there is a lot of support and advice for young people trying to launch their first venture, there is virtually nowhere to get the cash injection they often need.
“We’ve both set up businesses and I set up a business when I was almost 30 and had saved up to prepare for that,” he said. “That gave us the confidence to start the business and enabled us to buy the kit we needed. We are not looking to support the next genius healthcare app, we just want to support young people who are setting up straightforward businesses or to help them buy a piece of equipment.”
The fund has already supported several businesses, including artist Lucy Burns who received a grant to boost her sustainable ceramics business. The 24-year-old sells kitchen and homeware with a sustainable theme, which she sells at Bridport Market every Saturday. “I like to promote ceramic sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics, such as coffee cups and keep bowls with silicone lids and loose-leaf tea strainers,” she said.
She set up her tiny studio, called The Pot Place, at Uplyme, near Lyme Regis, a year ago. Her first year of trading was encouraging but the rising price of raw materials put a cloud over the venture.
She heard about the Dorset Community Foundation grants from a friend and applied.
After submitting her business plan and having an interview with Mr Robinson and Mr Smallwood she was delighted to hear she had been awarded £1,500.
She is using the grant to buy a new stock of silicone lids and raw materials, and is investing in a new website so she can sell online.
She has also started selling her wares at festivals.

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