Through its Community Business Start UpProgramme Invest Northern Ireland has helped 56 new community businesses to set up, exceeding its target three months ahead of schedule.
The businesses, which will help to create over 150 jobs, range from security services to environmentally friendly nappies. All have been set up as not-for-personal-profit ventures to benefit local communities.
Blooming Bottoms, is one of the businesses which has received support from the Community Business Start Up Programme. Set up by BORN –the Belfast Organisation for Real Nappies - the business provides a cotton nappy service.
BORN, which brings together parents, professionals, communities and groups, aims to raise awareness of the environmental and social implications of disposable nappy use and make real nappy use the first choice of parents. The business has already developed an extensive customer base and is currently developing a new retail outlet in Belfast.
Rebecca Lamont Jiggens, manager of Blooming Bottoms, says: “The Community Business Start up Programme, which we accessed through Work West, helped us to develop the business idea into reality. As well as funding we were able to access useful advice and training.”
Support for community businesses is part of the government’s drive to develop the social economy.
Graham Davis, director of local economic development in Invest NI, comments: ‘Community businesses are dynamic and progressive businesses which can help to increase economic productivity and bring people back into the labour market.
“They help to create an inclusive society by giving disadvantaged groups the opportunity to develop business capability and confidence, and actively contribute to improving their own locality.”
The Community Business Start Up programme, which is part funded by the EU Programme for Peace andReconciliation and the Department for Employment and Learning (DEL), provides a package of training, advice and funding to community and voluntary groups who want to start a business that will help to meet a social need.
Invest NI delivers the programme via a consortium of local enterprise agencies which provide experienced community business advisors to help each business through the set up process and early years of trading.