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Report into the Business Gateway Start-up Discretionary Fund
The Business Gateway Start-up Discretionary Fund in Ayrshire provided an additional grant of £500 for business start-ups within Social Inclusion Partnership (SIP) areas. It aimed to encourage an increased rate within the SIP areas by improving access to finance for the disadvantaged resident or individual start-up considering an optional location for their venture. The evaluation aimed to find out the success of the four-year programme, whether it was meeting its stated objectives and to establish the future of the initiative.
The methodology consisted of: a survey of recipients who had received support from the discretionary fund. Contact was made with 205 (42.8%) of recipients and an eventual sample of 93 (19.5%) usable interviews resulted. Contact was also made with the main stakeholders in Ayrshire that may interface with candidates.
Suggests that the support mechanism is helping to increase the level of start-ups albeit statistical proof of the difference made is more difficult to identify. Notes that there is some evidence to suggest that eligibility and approval against guidelines may not be fully adhered to by clients. Concludes that the option of supporting businesses affected by seasonal activities should not be pursued as it would be difficult to ‘police’. From SWOT analysis, identifies the key strengths of the fund as having: an existing track record; local demand and interest; lower level of closures than norm; and a cost-effective supplement; its opportunities as being able to: adjust eligibility and flexibility; amend type of support and terms; and expand geographic and sectoral coverage; its weaknesses as: being dependent on an individual Adviser; having a lack of focus in support due to ‘automatic’ £500; and having differing levels of success in uptake, and the threats to the scheme encompassing: national guidelines precluding discretionary funding; lack of candidates due to benefits not being seen; and political interference.
Recommends that the project should be continued, but that the reasons for the apparent differing performance levels of the three SIPs as regards level per population should be reviewed. Suggests that the concept of an evening advice helpline should be considered. Recommends continuation of funds for the project, albeit with amendments to the level and type of support to reflect business needs, and if this is established, ensure that the Gateway Managers receive briefing and awareness in depth of analysing and agreeing the appropriate level of support. Considers a longitudinal analysis of the participants to track performance and confirm overall difference in performance would be beneficial. Suggests that Advisers are aware of all services available in the local area and that clients are informed and supported in accessing these services. Recommends that new participants should be able to take advantage of Networking sessions at the ACCI, on a free or subsidised basis and that there should be discussion with SE and potential insurance providers to offer a standard package for start-up operations.
Full Report (344 KB, pdf)
|Theme/Sector||Entrepreneurship/new firm formation, Equal opportunities, Enterprise, Equity|