Business dragons wanted to help in Derbyshire

An appeal for Dragons’ Den-style business mentors to help the long-term unemployed in Derbyshire set up their own enterprises has been launched.

The Derbyshire New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) Project is being delivered by a partnership between Business in the Community, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber of Commerce and the Erewash Partnership Limited.

NEA is a programme to mentor jobseekers who have been unemployed for at least six months and help them to start their own micro business. This can provide a way for unemployed people to have their chance at earning their own income, paying their own tax and offering local services and products to local people.

It will help regenerate neighbourhoods as micro businesses such as shops and local traders are often at the heart of the local economy as they live locally, spend locally and if their businesses thrive, they employ other local people.

The NEA was announced on 5 October by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The aim is that the Government will give extra help to unemployed people who want to start their own business. NEA will be available to Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) customers who have been claiming for 26-weeks or more.

If you are able to give some of your time freely to mentor these new business hopefuls then participants will get access to a unique pool of volunteer business mentors who will provide guidance and support as the new micro-business entrepreneurs develop their business plans and start trading.

Once a participant can demonstrate they have a viable business proposition with the potential for growth in the future, they will be able to access financial support.

Heidi Watson, Regional Director of Business in the Community in the East Midlands, said: “Business in the Community was formed with the ethos that ‘Healthy Backstreets equals Healthy High Streets’. This programme embodies that ethos as it helps to create and maintain healthy backstreets and healthy high streets.

“The partners in the Derbyshire NEA Project believe that we can help people who have a viable business idea but could not set up a business and make it thrive on their own and so we need the assistance of willing business volunteers to help us. Nobody understands the importance of local business more than business itself.”

George Cowcher, Chief Executive of the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Chamber, said: “The Chamber is delighted to be part of this new project to promote enterprise and develop the new businesses which will drive the economic growth and job creation of the of the future.

“Against a backdrop of sharp cuts in business support funding and the demise of emda and Business Link, there is a clear need for this type of service, which will provide fledgling businesses with the support and guidance they need to succeed and grow in their first few years of trading.”

Ian Viles, Chief Executive of Erewash Partnership Ltd, added: “We are looking forward to playing our part in helping people to fulfil their dream of running their own businesses and keen to hear from experienced business people willing to work alongside us – together we can give a real boost to the local economy.”

If you feel you can give up your time to help mentor one of these start-up businesses please call: Anna Mills at Business in the Community on 0115 924 7419 or e-mail anna.mills@bitc.org.uk. Anna will give you all the information about this new project together with dates when we will be running workshops for mentors to find out more.