Budding entrepreneurs see business ideas reach next level
Budding entrepreneurs across Belfast are seeing their businesses reach the next level after taking part in a business programme, funded by the council.
The High Growth Pre-Enterprise Programme has helped local companies in key areas like product development, finance, sales and marketing. Participants also received £500 of tailored support to develop their business product or service.
Part-funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for NI, the programme was delivered for the council by business development agencies’ Work West and Ortus.
An event was held in City Hall recently to celebrate the achievements of all 45 participants on the programme with certificates presented by Councillor Guy Spence, Deputy Chair of the council’s Development Committee.
Among those who benefited from the programme was Katrina Lynch from The Gluten Free Patisserie in west Belfast who was full of praise for the initiative.
“I really enjoyed the programme and would definitely recommend it to anyone starting an enterprise. My business has gone from an idea to a reality,” she said.
“The one-to-one mentoring was extremely useful helping me to develop a business plan, apply for funding, sales mentoring and advice on tax and self-employment.
“With the bursary, I was able to get a logo design, promotional banner and leaflets to promote my business. We are getting positive comments from our customers and repeat business with more prospective customers on the horizon.”
Anthony Hanna from ProProject in north Belfast said the programme was invaluable in providing him with the skills to develop his business.
“The programme was structured very well to give participants the time and resources to make the most from the seminars and workshops. As a solo founder of a business, it can sometimes become a bit overwhelming and having someone who can lend a hand, even for just a day or two, goes a long way to helping you out, especially when they are experts in their respective fields and can draw on years of experience.
“Our company website, for instance, needed improving and being provided with a very talented web designer to critique it and give it a professional polish was of significant value. It has gone a long way to raising the profile of ProProject internationally as it is the first thing any potential client will see.”
Stephen McGilloway from bigsmalldesign in the city centre added: “When I applied for the programme, I saw it as a good means to take part in a staged process that would help build knowledge and understanding of the first six months in business.
“I took part in all the workshops which were varied but very relevant to my business, particularly with the building of a business plan. The programme was an excellent foundation for anyone considering working for themselves or starting a business.”
Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Chair of Belfast City Council’s Development Committee, said: “A key priority of council is to grow our private sector through the stimulation of new business start-ups.
“The High Growth Pre-Enterprise Programme goes some way to achieving this as it provides budding entrepreneurs across the city with access to the needed skills and expertise to build sustainable businesses.”
Belfast City Council supports local business across the city with a number of business programmes and events throughout the year. For more information, visit www.belfastcity.gov.uk/business or