Cothrom recognise young enterpreneurs

Development organisation Cothrom, based in South Uist, last week recognised the efforts of young business people from across the Western Isles who have participated in its Enterprise on the Edge initiative.

Having boosted the number of young people going into business by 50 per cent over the last year, the project launched an Inspiring New Business competition and held the awards last week.

Pictured are Lauren MacSween, Gemma Campbell, Charlotte Hughes and Oran Boyd.

Lauren from Scalpay won £250 and will set up Odyssey Audio Tours to develop a series of audio tours for locations of importance in the Outer Hebrides, like the Callanish Stones and Scalpay Lighthouse, and potentially other scenic tourist destinations across the UK. With the prize money, Lauren will be able to develop a few audio tours to test out her market.

Gemma, from South Uist, won the first prize pf £500 and will set up Hebridean Gin as a micro-distillery making small batches of artisanal gin created using a combination of classic and local botanicals for a unique Hebridean flavour. Her prize money should be enough to buy some of the key equipment to trial distilling Hebridean gin.

Charlotte, also from South Uist, won £250 and will set up Barking Mad — a kennel and cattery in Howmore — to diversify her croft. To make it more environment-friendly, Charlotte plans to harness solar and wind power as well as plant more trees.

Oran from Barrra won £250 and along with Adam Bari will set up Barra Paintballing to deliver an outdoor activity that everyone can enjoy. They want to diversify what activities are currently available on Barra, and contribute to making the island a great destination for outdoor activities. With the prize money, support from the Barra Youth Café and investing their own savings, Adam and Oran are now halfway to raising the initial capital of £2,200 they need to set up Barra Paintballing.

The other two entrants — both commended by the judges — were: Rose Blaney, South Uist who wants to set up the South Uist Rare and Indigenous Breeds Riding School; and Kieran Henshall from Lewis who wants to set up Pub & Brewery, an online independent news website and community forum for the brewing and pub industry.

Over the last five years Cothrom have engaged with 120 young people to help them explore enterprise and what it means to them. They have then followed up with 40 of them to help them explore whether they want to take their enterprising idea forward. Eight of the young people are currently expected to set up in business in 2015, almost none of whom would have developed their business idea without the support of Enterprise on the Edge.

In addition, six members of the Roots and Wings youth group in Ness on Lewis will be setting up and running a kiosk enterprise in Eoropie Dunes Park over the summer, and music students at Lews Castle College Benbecula will initiate another joint enterprise in September to deliver music sessions for children.