Carpenter and Virtual Assistant benefit from new grant scheme for start-up businesses

Grants of up to £1,000 were made available to successful applicants in the latest round of a scheme run by Swansea Council and funded by the UK Government’s Community Renewal Fund.

Although the scheme has now closed for applications, further funding support for Swansea start-up businesses is expected to be announced in the early New Year.

Edward Enticknap, from Morriston, is among those to have benefited in recent months. He used the start-up funding to help with the costs of setting up his hand-crafted wooden furniture and general carpentry services business, which is called Edward’s Bespoke Carpentry.

Edward said: “I’m apprenticeship-trained in foundry pattern making, which is a specialist kind of carpentry that makes wooden replicas of objects to be cast in metal.

“I’ve also taught carpentry and joinery but had been away from the workplace for a few years, helping to bring up a young family.

“I was also suffering from depression and anxiety caused by a bereavement, and was initially referred by my GP to the Workways+ employability project run by the council.

“I haven’t looked back since, with funding from the council and Business Wales helping cover the costs of starting up my business.

“It’s mainly property renovation work and smaller general carpentry jobs I’ve been carrying out in recent months while setting up the new business, although I now have a dedicated space where I can make products for sale, including glamping pods and shepherd huts, for example.

“I’m now in my happy place.”

Charly Cope, from Llansamlet, also benefited from a start-up grant that helped cover the costs of a new laptop and headset for her business, Charly Cope Virtual Assistant.

Set up in the summer, the business provides executive support to clients including diary and social media management, report writing, event planning and proof reading.

Charly said: “I’ve worked remotely for many years, but the virtual assistant industry has really started to grow – especially during the pandemic when I first really noticed the opportunity.

“Some people are put off by thinking there’s too much paperwork in applying for funding of this kind, but they really shouldn’t be as the process was pretty simple.

“The council’s business support team were amazing to deal with – very fast and extremely helpful.

“I had my first client within a week of setting up and others have followed, so I’m very glad I made the decision when I did.”

Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Investment and Tourism, said: “We recognise the contribution our businesses make to our city’s economy, which is why we’re on hand to provide as much support as possible to start-ups and businesses of all sizes.

“This is especially important as the city bounces back from the impact of the pandemic, with many businesses also now facing more expensive energy and other bills as the cost of living crisis starts to take hold.”

Other ongoing Swansea Council support for new and existing businesses includes free start-up enterprise club and power hour events with expert tips on subjects ranging from social media and legal considerations to employment law and cyber security.

Head to swansea.gov.uk/businessadvice for more information.

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