NEA scheme is ‘the business’ for new entrepreneurs

A recent survey of 1,500 New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) funded start-ups has revealed that 80 per cent were still in business between a year and 18 months later.

The NEA is a popular and successful scheme delivered through JobCentre Plus which offers expert mentoring and financial support to eligible benefit claimants who have a good idea to set up their own businesses.

The latest statistics, released in December 2015 after a survey compiled by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), show that almost 77,000 businesses have started with NEA funding and support since 2011.

The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has a contract to run the NEA initiative from their Fulwood office and has supported more than 1,000 start-up businesses.

There have been a number of success stories along the way with some companies not only still in business but thriving and expanding; among the success stories is chocolatier Paul Williams, who launched his ‘Choc Amor’ firm from a small unit based at Botany Bay, Chorley, in 2012.

Since then Mr Williams has won a number of Great Taste Awards, including a coveted two-star award, and last year, picked up four gongs in the British leg of the highly competitive International Chocolate Awards (ICAs).

That success saw him qualify for last October’s world finals where he picked up a bronze medal for his dark chocolate containing salt liquorice.

Someone else who discovered the recipe for success through the NEA scheme is chef Richard Holden (pictured), who took advantage of the funding available to launch his own company, Richard Holden BBQ.

A cookery school specialising in barbecue cooking, it will focus, for the first year at least, on supporting known barbecue retailers through in-store cooking demonstrations and hands-on masterclasses.

“Paul and Richard are only two of the many people we have helped through the NEA initiative,” said Jennifer Swarbrick, who manages the Chamber’s NEA operation from its office based in Fulwood.

“We always try to provide the best possible support for our clients through financial support and mentoring from experts in their field.

“There may have been difficult times of late for businesses of all shapes and sizes but it’s heartening to see so many people who have come through the NEA scheme are not only trading but, in many cases, prospering.”

For more information on the NEA programme, contact the North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce on 01772 653000.

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