What if... you have a great idea to make a difference to your community - but need support to make it a reality?

May 12, 2017

People in Ayrshire are being urged to come up with ideas for businesses that can benefit the South Carrick community.

What if...Girvan is inviting local people to come up with ideas that could benefit the wider community, such as celebrating their local heritage; producing and consuming food locally; getting people active and healthy, making connections between communities; reducing or reusing waste and repurposing existing empty spaces.

Successful applicants get access to a programme of support to develop their ideas into a viable venture, including mentoring and peer support, and up to £3000 of seed funding to test their ideas. The criteria allows people living out with the area to apply as long as their proposed activity is delivered in the KA26 area.

Launched in 2016 by social enterprise development agency Firstport, What if...Girvan is already supporting five local people to develop their ideas, including an indoor farmers market, art workshops for young people and a coffee importing business.

One of the current participants on the three-year programme, Pearl McGibbon from Barrhill, applied last year with a long-held idea to set up and run a weekly, indoors farmers market in Girvan. Having produced a range of jams and chutneys as well as Harris Tweed goods for many years, Pearl realised that a regular farmers market would be a great opportunity to showcase the great produce and crafts that the area has to offer.

Since taking part in What if...Girvan, Pearl has benefitted from one to one business support, as well as training and funding and is now running a weekly market every Friday.

Pearl said: “The support I have received through the programme has given me the tools and confidence to get my idea off the ground. I have always felt that the area would really benefit from a weekly market and the response from local producers and consumers has been overwhelmingly positive so far, which is very encouraging”.

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “Pearl is a good example of how local people, with the right support in place, can make great ideas a reality whilst playing a part in addressing the needs of the area. We are now searching for the next round of applicants and are urging anyone interested to get in touch or attend one of our events.”

Applications for What if...Girvan are open until 29 May. Drop in sessions and ideas workshops are being held at the Girvan Town House on Thursday 18 May, 10am to 2pm and Thursday 25 May, 2pm to 6pm. People are also invited to contact sally@firstport.org.uk if they would like to discuss an idea.

ENDS

Sally Johnston, What if...Girvan Programme Manager, and Pearl McGibbon are both available for interview. For more information, contact Carol Stewart on 07944 060322 or carol@firstport.org.uk or Jess Gray on 0131 558 2724 or jess@firstport.org.uk

Editor notes

Firstport
Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise. We offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections.

Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund and is also part of the Just Enterprise consortium, providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland.

Other place-based initiatives designed and delivered by Firstport include Beyond the Finish Line, which harnessed the momentum of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 to inspire young people to regenerate Glasgow’s high streets; and Vital Spark, which is working with people in Argyll and the Islands to revitalise their communities. www.firstport.org.uk

The William Grant Foundation
The seed funding for the programme is provided by the William Grant Foundation, a non-profit association established to support charitable causes, principally in Scotland. Its work is funded by William Grant & Sons Holdings Ltd.

Social enterprise
A social enterprise is a trading concern that operates in the business place, but places social or environmental aims at the core of its ethos. For example, it could work with disadvantaged volunteers on placement, collect materials for recycling or aim to improve the health of the community. Profits are typically reinvested back into the business to grow the social or environmental aims. Examples of Scottish social enterprises are available on the Firstport website www.firstport.org.uk/case-studies