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.
Cookstown locals Charlene Canavan and Ngaire Kelly turned their friendship and passion for fashion into a business venture. Their boutique, Serephina, sells a wide range of ladies clothing specialising in dresses for all occasions.
Speaking about their experiences, Charlene said: “Taking part in the Regional Start programme boosted our confidence to start something we had a passion for. We were assisted in the development of a business plan, which helped us bring our idea to life, set goals and the give us the direction we needed to take to achieve them.
“We also received advice and guidance on areas that we had no experience in such as book keeping, marketing and the legalities. The support we received was excellent. It’s fantastic having this support on your door step that you can contact if there is something that you need help with or who can simply provide you with the reassurance you need.”
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.