Boost for new business ideas

North West Marketing staff members, from left, Charlie Kennedy, general manager, and business advisors Brian O'Neill and Alan Healy who will be able to take advantage of the new 1GB high speed fibre optic broadband at Skeoge Business Park. (1101PG03)
North West Marketing staff members, from left, Charlie Kennedy, general manager, and business advisors Brian O'Neill and Alan Healy who will be able to take advantage of the new 1GB high speed fibre optic broadband at Skeoge Business Park. (1101PG03)

A new programme has been launched in Derry to help organisations and individuals develop new business ideas.

The free-to-attend Exploring Social Enterprise Programme aims to equip community and voluntary groups and entrepreneurs at the pre-enterprise stage with the knowledge and confidence to advance smart plans and boost their future prospects.

It has been set up by the recently launched Enterprising Derry Project and funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland and Derry City Council.

More than 15 organisations, groups and individuals based in the city council area have already subscribed for the weekly programme which is facilitated by business support specialists North West Marketing.

The service also includes health checks, ideas workshops, focused training and mentoring.

Brian O’Neill, Programme Manager at North West Marketing said: “The Derry area has seen significant growth in the social economy sector over the last two years and there are already many outstanding enterprise projects that are actively helping local communities and contributing towards sustainable economic growth.

“This programme is designed for organisations of all sizes and those with little or no experience of the sector.

“We’ll provide them with the tools and knowledge needed to crystallise new ideas and compliment existing programmes including the Invest NI Social Entrepreneurship Programme which is also providing important support in the area.

“New opportunities are emerging and support is openly available for forward-thinking organisations and individuals interested in taking the next steps and playing a key role in shaping Derry’s future.”

The programme also offers participating groups an opportunity to visit a best-practice social enterprise initiative and gain from expert guidance, networking, partnership and knowledge-sharing opportunities.

Derry-based social enterprise initiative, Avert Training Ltd, which provides preventative domestic violence advice and training has signed up to the programme.

Eleanor McGuckin, Business Manager at Avert Training said the programme is an important and timely initiative.

“When we set out in early 2010 we had a limited knowledge the social enterprise sector and were apprehensive about how to take the next steps.

But with advice from programmes like this enabled us to identify and secure vital assistance. We look forward to sharing our experiences in the weeks ahead. ”

The Exploring Social Enterprise programme takes places at North West Business Complex, Skeoge at 10am each Thursday in February with a special best practice site visit scheduled for Thursday, March 10.

Attendance is free but must be registered in advance by contacting Brian O’Neill on 028 7135 2693 or email: brian@north-westmarketing.com.