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March 27, 2013

Supportive local economy

Anyone who’s ever tried to start a business will know it can be a long, hard and sometimes lonely slog. Despite the best efforts of mainstream business support – Business Gateway – there has long been a suspicion that more could be done, especially during the start-up phase when confidence can be fragile and failure just around the corner. A community based project in Perthshire has been doing just that – local business people giving freely of their time to help others.  Judging by its success, why hasn’t it been taken up elsewhere?



Supportive local economy

Growbiz –

GrowBiz operates in the rural economies of Eastern and Highland Perthshire and provides free community-based coaching, training and support to individuals, community organisations and social enterprises – with the purpose of helping people to develop their ideas, skills, self-belief and confidence.Our operations to date have resulted in a range of outcomes, including: identification of further training and education opportunities for individuals; creation of employment through social enterprises, community organisations and micro-businesses; and, a positive contribution to the social and economic regeneration of the local area.


GrowBiz is driven by a volunteer board and a 30-strong community-based panel of local people, who are all committed to the regeneration and development of the local economy. Our Enterprise Coordinator – Jackie Brierton – arranges confidential one-to-one meetings with individuals seeking information and guidance, and can then connect the client to members of the community panel for further assistance, mentoring or solutions.

GrowBiz began operating in June 2007 and since then we have received enquiries from over 360 people with an idea to start or improve their business or Social Enterprise. Since the start of the project there have been in excess of 60 new businesses started and 12 businesses expanded, creating over 140 new jobs and helping retain 128 existing jobs.

GrowBiz in the Future

We are aiming to build on our experience of community capacity-building by developing our model of community-based coaching, training and support for a broader audience by:


•Developing a pro-active community development approach, providing personal development,    training, awareness-raising and a community education role (including development of social    enterprises).

•Working particularly with groups who are under-represented in community organisations and    enterprise, including young people (through schools, colleges, local youth projects and    JobCentreplus), women, minority ethnic communities (particularly the large Eastern European    community in the local area), older people and people who have some form of disability.

•Developing a mentoring support network using members of the community  panel, local    businesses and social enterprises.

•Extending the new services to the rest of Perth & Kinross and Angus.