Community grants are giving young disadvantaged entrepreneurs a boost

Grants of up to £2,000 to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds start their own business are available through Wiltshire Community Foundation’s South West Enterprise Fund.
The foundation has partnered with businessman Nick Robinson and Giles Samallwood to launch the fund, which offers young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 the grants to help with buying equipment or pay business-related rent or bills.

Applicants, who must live in Swindon or Wiltshire 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; I set up mine when I was almost 30 and had saved up to prepare for that,” he said. “That gave us the confidence 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.”

Tiger Watts has been awarded £2,000 for a new camera and laptop

Tiger Watts has been awarded £2,000 for a new camera and laptop

The founders have been impressed by the applications received so far. “It’s inspiring to see all of the different businesses being proposed and hearing their plans is a really fun part of the process,” said Mr Robinson.
The fund has already supported a number of businesses, including interior designer Hania Southwell, awarded £990 for design software. “It’s a huge help. I can work much more quickly with the software and with kitchens you really need it to price them up as you go,” she said.
She found the interview process enjoyable and was delighted to learn she had been awarded a grant. “I was very excited to get the grant and it means I don’t have to worry about paying the bills to begin with. It will help set me on the right path,” she said.

The 29-year-old, who owns HLS Design in Salisbury, said grant has boosted her confidence. “It was reassuring to get the money because you definitely get moments of doubt when you are almost down to the zeros on your bank balance and you question whether you are okay at doing this,” she said.
Tiger Watts has been awarded £2,000 for a new camera and laptop as she makes her way as a freelance film photographer. The 23-year-old, who graduated last year from the London Film Academy, has found work taking behind the scenes pictures and publicity stills of the cast on three short films and a feature film.
“I wasn’t sure if it was something they would invest in but they were really interested and encouraging and I was so thrilled to get the grant,” she said.
“It’s nice to see how many people around me are encouraging me and now succeeding in the job feels like it’s a real possibility so I’m going to aim for it as hard as I can. There’s more production companies willing to take people on than there’s ever been. There’s still a lot of competition but it is promising and I feel confident.”
Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver said the fund is an example of the foundation’s ability to shape a grant programme to meet the needs of a donor: “Nick and Giles had a very specific goal and we are delighted we were able to work with them to design something that suited their needs,” she said.
“It’s wonderful that they have put their faith in us to find some fantastic young people for whom this is exactly the boost they need. We have already funded some brilliant businesses and we look forward to watching them blossom.”
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