The high quality of advice and support given to entrepreneurs and small businesses through the Northern Ireland Business Start Programme (NIBSP) has been officially recognised at a ceremony at which 96 NIBSP trainers were presented with certificates.

The certificates were awarded to trainers and advisers who have demonstrated an acceptable level of knowledge, understanding and business advice skills, as measured against national standards.

The certificates were presented by Christine Tolson, chief executive of the Small Firms Enterprise Development Initiative (SFEDI). SFEDI has worked closely with Invest Northern Ireland and Enterprise Northern Ireland to develop a system of quality assurance for the NIBSP to ensure that a quality and uniform product is being delivered consistently across Northern Ireland.

Graham Davis, Director of Local Economic Development in Invest NI comments: “The introduction of this quality assurance system which is linked to national standards, reflects our commitment to delivering best practice business advice and support to NIBSP clients.

“Participants in the NIBSP across Northern Ireland can now be confident that the highest quality support is being made available to them. The trainers and advisers receiving the certificates have all undergone rigorous assessment to ensure that they meet the national standards for business support.”

To date 92 trainers and advisors have attained the national standards. The training materials used in the NIBSP have also been endorsed as meeting national standards.

Ann McGregor, Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland, said: “Today’s ceremony is an important public acknowledgment of the excellence in business counselling provided through the Business Start Up Programme. Enterprise Northern Ireland is committed to this ongoing process of quality assurance which will ensure that entrepreneurs in Northern Ireland will get the very best support in the crucial early days of setting up and running a business.”

The NIBSP is funded by Invest Northern Ireland in association with Northern Ireland’s 26 councils and the European Union Building Sustainable Prosperity Programme, and is delivered by local enterprise agencies.