A chocolatier, an estate agent and a seller of Indian spices are among 11 young Highland entrepreneurs selected to take part in a new business growth programme aimed at helping them develop their enterprises.
Finlay Macdonald, founder of Chocolates of Glenshiel, Hannah Low, of Inverness-based Handpicked Properties, and Julia Latif, of Our House of Spice in Fort Augustus, were chosen along with eight others after pitching for a place on the IMPACT30 project.
Run as part of development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise’s (HIE) Northern Innovation Hub initiative, in partnership with Anderson Anderson and Brown (AAB) consultancy, the scheme has been designed for people under 35 in key decision-making roles in businesses set up less than three years ago within the Highland Council area.
A total of 30 young business leaders will take part in the year-long, fully funded programme, which offers mentoring support and access to industry expertise.
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The first group was selected by a panel from the programme’s coaching team, HIE and AAB after submitting short video pitches.
Included were Jonny Ingledew, of North Uist Distillery; Ben Oakes, of Isle of Skye Seaweed Company; Jamie Fletcher, of Caora Dhubh Coffee Company; Gemma Ashdown, of Skye Serenity; and Cecilia Grigor, of Loch Ness Knit Fest. Also chosen were Jo-Ann Clark, of Emily’s Bees, Ian Smith, of Tiree Whisky Company, and Kevin Clark, of Heilan Loos.
Felix Spittal, senior project manager at HIE, said: “We have been impressed by the drive, innovation, commitment and determination from the diverse range of applicants, all of whom exemplified the type of business acumen that will benefit from the high-quality support IMPACT30 offers.”
He continued: “This programme will allow the entrepreneurs to remain in their locations whilst receiving tailored guidance and support from AAB, coaches, mentors, and peers throughout.
“I’m looking forward to watching these young entrepreneurs grow over the next 12 months and beyond.”
AAB consultant Claire Smith said: “The successful candidates clearly articulated their business growth plans and objectives for IMPACT 30 and creatively used their video applications to give the panel insight into their venture.
“We can’t wait to kick off the programme next month.”