Growbiz launch Scotland’s first directory of rural businesses
Scotland’s specialist rural enterprise support organisation GrowBiz has launched a comprehensive directory of the country’s rural and island businesses in a bid to support and promote the rural economy. Rural micro-enterprises across Scotland are being encouraged to sign up to access all the benefits that the directory offers.
REDS (Rural Enterprise Directory Scotland) is part of GrowBiz’s Smart Village initiative, and is the first online directory of its kind, providing a central reference point for customers, suppliers and visitors to find Scottish businesses by geography and sector. It is designed to stimulate connection and collaboration between rural businesses that are spread far and wide across the country.
GrowBiz CEO, Jackie Brierton said: “Nearly 25% of adults in rural Scotland are self-employed (more than twice the rate of urban areas) and challenges such as inconsistent broadband coverage, poor transport links and greater distances to food supplies and health services means that rural businesses and their communities were already under severe pressure before the Coronavirus pandemic.”
“Scotland’s micro-enterprises form the backbone of our rural economy and they need support – both financial and practical – to adapt where necessary and ultimately recover. Businesses which join the Directory will have access to practical support from GrowBiz and the enterprise agencies, invitations to exclusive events and also be eligible to apply for a REDS grant, once funding is in place, which will help owners develop their businesses in collaboration with other rural businesses.”
Young people are one of the key target groups which the REDS directory is designed to support, recognising the need to encourage more young people in rural areas to consider entrepreneurship as a career path. The recent Benny Higgins report called for a two-year jobs guarantee for 16 to 25-year-olds as part of a range of measures to help the Scottish economy recover from the impact of COVID-19.
With fewer employment opportunities in rural areas and a greater percentage of people self-employed, GrowBiz recognises the urgent need to support young people in pursuing opportunities to start and grow their own businesses, thereby contributing to the local economy and their communities.
There is no up-front fee to join the directory for small businesses but there is a monthly listing subscription of £10 after the first month, to cover the costs of running the directory and ensuring it is kept live and up to date. This will include access to exclusive monthly REDS events and learning sessions as well as the other benefits of being a member.
No subscriptions will be due until October 1st 2020 for early sign-ups, and for the first 50 subscribers, this free period will be extended until January 1st 2021.
Alongside the Directory, GrowBiz is running a CrowdFund Scotland campaign for the REDS Fund: Supporting Rural Scotland’s Future, aiming to raise £3 million, which will support almost 1200 rural micro-enterprises across Scotland. Membership of the Directory will be a requirement for any business applying for grant support from the REDS Fund.
Brierton concluded; “Over 60% of rural and island businesses in Scotland had to halt all business activity at the start of the pandemic. Although many have been able to reopen in some form or another, the financial impact of such a lengthy period of non -trading will make it impossible for many businesses to fully recover. We want to reach and support as many of Scotland’s rural businesses and micro-enterprises as possible, providing a vital resource for rural communities as they recover and rebuild.”
Joe Sykes, founder of Perthshire-based Joelato Gelato said; “Scotland’s rural businesses have faced incredible pressures over the past few months. As an ambitious micro-enterprise in the early stages of our business journey, we are delighted to be part of the REDS Directory. It’s a great initiative which allows rural businesses to be visible, to connect and to get the support we need to overcome the challenges which we have faced during the Coronavirus pandemic.”