1600 new businesses have been created during the past year through Invest Northern Ireland’s Regional Start Initiative.
The programme is focused on encouraging potential entrepreneurs to produce a business plan as one of the key early steps to starting a business and moving into self employment.
Omar Deveney from Armagh is one the 1600 entrepreneurs to have turned their business idea into reality. Mr Deveney set up his catering company, Thirty8, in September 2013 following almost ten years-experience working in the industry. “I found myself unemployed and wasn’t sure if I wanted to go and search for work overseas,” explains Omar. “However I decided to take things into my own hands and began to search for information on starting my own business”, he added.
Omar took advantage of the business start-up support offered through the initiative, which included advice and expertise on business planning, financial forecasts and marketing. He said: “I had no idea that there was so much help available. By calling the Regional Start Initiative helpline number I was referred to my local enterprise agency and the next thing I knew I had my business plan completed. The plan then enabled me to receive a grant from Invest NI of £1,000 to help start my business.”
The Jobs Fund also offers financial incentives of £1,000-£1,500 for individuals wishing to start a business, who are either resident in one of the 36 Neighbourhood Renewal Areas (NRA), or by young people currently Not in Employment, Education or Training (NEET).
“One thing I would say to all those people wanting to start up a business – ask questions because there is more help available than you would expect,” added Omar.
Bill Scott, Invest NI’s Executive Director of Regional Business, said: “The Regional Start Initiative is providing very important support for people looking to start their own business.
“Our aim is to raise the overall number and quality of business starts in Northern Ireland by providing innovative advisory and training support to individuals at the start-up stage.
“We hope to have 6500 business plans approved by October 2014. Whilst this is challenging, it is essential if we are to support the rebuilding of our economy and the creation of new jobs. Approving over 3000 business plans to date is an important milestone which will contribute towards achieving this objective.
“We will continue to work to support entrepreneurs to develop business plans and provide sound business planning advice that will ensure the best chance of success.”
The initiative is delivered by Enterprise Northern Ireland and its network of regional delivery partners. People interested in setting up their own business and would like advice and support should call 0800 027 0639.