Pictured at the launch of the Social Enterprise Hub and First Stop Shop are (L-R)Dr. Nick O'Shiel, Omagh Enterprise Company; Robert Gibson, Acting Chief Executive Fermanagh District Council; Minister Foster; Councillor Bert Johnston, Chairman Fermanagh District Council and Mary Gormley, Invest NI.
Enterprise, Trade and Investment Minister Arlene Foster has launched two new innovative business support programmes in Enniskillen to assist new and existing businesses and social enterprises.
The First Stop Shop will support business development in the Fermanagh District Council area and is part funded by Invest Northern Ireland and the European Regional Development Fund under the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme for Northern Ireland.
In turn, the Social Enterprise Hub will provide advice and support to individuals and Community and Voluntary groups with a social enterprise idea based across the Western Social Investment Fund (SIF) zone of Fermanagh, Limavady, Omagh and Strabane District Council areas. Both programmes will be based in The Clinton Centre Enniskillen.
Speaking at the launch event at the Clinton Centre, Enniskillen, Arlene Foster said: “Enniskillen’s new First Stop Shop and Social Enterprise Hub will be an exciting and welcome resource for the wider business community in Fermanagh, complementing existing support on offer from Invest NI. Stakeholders in Fermanagh and Omagh have been working closely in the past year to develop the area as a SMART Region. The SMART Region Initiative is about bringing people together to find solutions and exploit opportunities through collaboration. Working together in this way is a vital part of the development of a successful and prosperous local economy.
“The First Stop Shop will provide advice and support to individuals and community and voluntary groups. I would like to congratulate Fermanagh District Council on their work, they have listened to local business owners and leaders and the result is a programme which specifically addresses the needs of this area. In addition to this the Social Enterprise hub will assist those with social enterprise ideas not only in the immediate area but across the Western Social Investment Fund zone of Fermanagh, Limavady, Omagh and Strabane District Council areas. Stimulating entrepreneurship and the development of the social economy sector remains an important challenge for the Executive. I firmly believe that creating a supportive and enabling environment for social enterprises to thrive will play an important role in growing our economy.
“The Social Enterprise initiative is one of the Signature Programmes being taken forward under the Northern Ireland Executive’s Delivering Social Change framework. The aim is to tackle unemployment and provide local services to encourage local businesses and investment. I look forward to seeing the progress of both the First Stop Shop programme and the Social Enterprise Hub over the coming months and hearing about the resulting business successes.”
Cllr Bert Johnston, Chairman of Fermanagh District Council said: “The provision of support for local businesses and social enterprises in the Fermanagh District Council area is to be very much welcomed. The Council recognises the importance of growing local businesses and social enterprises and their crucial contribution to the local economy. I would encourage all local businesses and social enterprises to engage with the programmes and take advantage of the support and opportunities being provided at a local level.
“I would like to thank Invest NI for the funding being provided for the First Stop Shop through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme. I would also like to thank the Executive for the support being provided for social enterprises in the Fermanagh District Council area and the wider Western Social Enterprise zone area.”
Nick O Shiel, Social Enterprise Hub Manager, said: “The Social Enterprise Hub is a completely new approach to supporting social enterprise ideas, providing social benefits for communities across Western zone area. We know from our experience and research that the appetite and interest for new types of social businesses is there and we look forward to uncovering and supporting these ambitious and innovative ideas.
“The Social Enterprise Hub premises in Enniskillen and Strabane will provide new social entrepreneurs and social enterprises with the support and help needed to develop their businesses. Resources will include free hot desking, meeting rooms, training/ conference rooms, retail space, business and secretarial support, Wi-Fi, printing services and other back office support. I would encourage anyone interested in developing a social enterprise to contact us in our premises in Strabane or Enniskillen.”