Growbiz launches £3 million Fund-raising campaign to support Scotland's rural businesses

Growbiz launches £3 million Fund-raising campaign to support Scotland's rural businesses

Hannah Downey

Perthshire-based enterprise support organisation GrowBiz has launched the first multi-million pound campaign of its kind to support the thousands of micro-enterprises across rural Scotland disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Over 60% of rural and island businesses in Scotland had to halt all business activity at the start of the pandemic, with only 8% reporting that they were operating as usual.  Working with Crowdfund Scotland, the 'REDS Fund: Supporting Rural Scotland’s Future' launches today (Thursday 25 June) and aims to raise £3 million by 6 August, which will support almost 1200 rural micro-enterprises across Scotland.

GrowBiz CEO, Jackie Brierton MBE said: “The Coronavirus crisis has had a devastating impact on thousands of Scotland’s micro-enterprises, which form the backbone of our rural economy. In order for these businesses to survive in the short-term, they need support – both financial and practical – and a sense that they’ll be assisted to adapt where necessary and ultimately recover. One of the key target groups for the funding will be young people. Benny Higgin’s Economic Recovery report earlier this week highlighted the need for a jobs guarantee for 16 – 25 year olds but in rural areas, opportunities for self-employment and enterprise may be a more viable solution for this age group. And they’ll need funding to develop their ideas.”

Rural businesses will be able to apply to the REDS Fund for grants of up to £5000. The project is designed to help micro-enterprises connect and help each other so it will work on a 50:50 principle; 50% of the grant awarded will go the business requiring the support and 50% to whichever business(es) provide them with a service or support, thereby circulating cash within rural communities.

Businesses and social enterprises applying to the Fund will register with the first ever Rural Enterprise Directory Scotland (REDS), leading to increased collaboration and support between businesses across rural areas. They will also receive business support and advice as required from GrowBiz and other ecosystem partners.

Brierton continued; “Over the past few months, we have witnessed the hardships and suffering experienced by those who have poured years of hard work into building successful rural micro-enterprises and watched them collapse overnight as a result of the COVID19 lockdown.

“Whilst the Scottish and UK governments have provided much-needed temporary support, many small enterprises and self-employed people in rural areas are struggling to survive. Our campaign to raise £3million is the first stage of a larger vision to build a fund of £10million so we can reach and support as many of Scotland’s rural businesses and micro-enterprises as possible, providing a vital lifeline for rural communities as they recover and rebuild.”

The crowd-funding campaign for the REDS Fund: Supporting Rural Scotland’s Future  is open now at https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/reds and runs until 6 August.