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Business Gateway and HIE launch new grant scheme to support young entrepreneurs

Startup businesses in the Outer Hebrides could receive a welcome injection of capital thanks to a new joint initiative launched by Business Gateway Outer Hebrides and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneur Start-Up Scheme (OHYESS) will provide grants of up to £2,500 to support entrepreneurs age 18-40 to set up businesses in key sectors across the Outer Hebrides. OHYESS has been developed with funding support from HIE and will be delivered by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Business Gateway team. The scheme is expected to run initially for two years and launched on 1 July.

This new scheme follows the recent success of the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (OHYES), which was established by the Comhairle to support and encourage young entrepreneurs. It ran successfully for two years, helping to support 43 business startups.

One of the startups supported by an OHYES grant from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides is Seas the Catch. Launched by three cousins who grew up fishing together on their fathers’ boats off the coast of Harris, Seas the Catch supplies locally caught live lobster, crab, prawns and crayfish to eateries across the Highlands and Islands.

The trio – Neil MacLean and brothers, Iain and Stewart MacLean – land catch from five local boats and process the shellfish at Leverburgh Harbour in Harris before packing and shipping the live product to the mainland for consumption.

Neil MacLean, co-founder of Seas the Catch, commented: “The aim of Seas the Catch is to promote Scottish shellfish and in turn create jobs in Harris as the business grows. To be successful, we knew we needed to have a watertight business plan so turned to Business Gateway Outer Hebrides for advice. Our adviser, Fiona Chisholm, has been a great support. Not only did she help us look at things from a different point of view, but she also helped us to secure the crucial £3,000 OHYES grant that allowed us to transform a shipping container into a processing plant.”

Councillor Donald Crichton, chairman of Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee said: “Following the success of our original OHYES scheme, we are excited to embark on this unique joint initiative with HIE to launch OHYESS. Business Gateway Outer Hebrides has supported a record 72 start-up businesses in the past year so, with added financial support from HIE and the prospect of OHYESS grants, I hope we can continue to foster a supportive environment for new businesses and promote the Outer Hebrides as an outstanding place to live and work.”

Rachel MacKenzie, area manager for HIE in the Outer Hebrides, added: “One of the biggest challenges facing any new businesses is securing finance to cover initial capital costs, so HIE is thrilled to partner with Business Gateway Outer Hebrides to provide financial support for OHYESS. The initiative will help support and further strengthen the local economy through the creation of opportunities for young people – helping to reverse the trend of out-migration. I look forward to seeing the businesses supported by OHYESS develop and flourish throughout the next two years.”

To find out more about the Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneur Start-Up Scheme (OHYESS), please contact Business Gateway Outer Hebrides on 01851 668 043 or visit www.bgateway.com.

Neina Sheldon
Article by Neina Sheldon
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