Rural Entrepreneurs Win Investment to Revive Village Communities
Six entrepreneurs in struggling rural communities across the UK have each won £400,000 to turn their business ideas into reality under a scheme run by the Big Lottery Fund to support rural businesses.
The Village SOS scheme selected the winning entrepreneurs after they demonstrated how their ideas could benefit their local communities by creating jobs and income.
The six businesses that secured the investment included Taste Tideswell in the Peak District, a local food producer and cookery school, and Barge Inn, a rural pub in Wiltshire rescued by villagers and now being turned into a social enterprise.
“The Village SOS programme aims to spark a rural revival across the UK by supporting community-led business ventures that will breathe new life into their areas, create new jobs and improve the quality of life for local people,”
said Big Lottery Fund spokesman, Neil Brown.
“From a project that aims to save a much-loved local pub, to another creating an umbrella ‘brand’ for local produce, the Village SOS funding awarded to the six villages will help them to secure the future of their communities and protect them from decline and the loss of local amenities.”
The entrepreneurs applied to the scheme last summer, and those who were shortlisted were offered a development grant of up to £10,000 and paired with a business expert to help them develop their business proposals.
“The six winning Village SOS projects had a number of strengths, including how they involved their local communities in shaping their ideas and how their business plans built on the strengths and resources that existed in their village,” said Brown.
A six-part Village SOS documentary series about the winners is due to be broadcast on BBC One in 2011. A campaign will be launched alongside the series to help other village businesses benefit from the lessons learned by the selected communities.
Entries for the Village SOS programme are now closed. Not-for-profit groups, including social enterprises, can apply for grants of between £300 and £10,000 to invest in projects through the Big Lottery Fund’s ongoing Awards for All programme.