Nick Robinson is one of the founders of the South West Enterprise Fund, which aims to give young people from disadvantaged backgrounds a helping hand with starting or developing their own business. He says working with Wiltshire Community Foundation has been the most effective way of reaching those who need his help the most.

“We launched the South West Enterprise Fund after realising that although there is a lot of support and advice for young people trying to launch their first venture, there is virtually nowhere to get the cash injection they often need.

“Our fund offers young entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 a grant of up to £2,000 to help with training or equipment costs. Applicants are required to present a business plan and answer questions about their ambitions which forces them to think strategically about their business.

“A major factor in choosing to work with Wiltshire Community Foundation was their ability to shape the grant programme to meet our goals. They were flexible and collaborative enough to take our idea on board – despite it being a new venture for them – and come back to us with a way of making it work.

“In addition, due to their close links with voluntary and community groups who have many young people on their radar, they have identified a number of excellent and interesting applications that we might not otherwise have encountered.

“The Foundation’s grants team has also helped us with getting the wording right in the application process, so potential beneficiaries understand what we are looking for. Right from the start they have been excellent at being on board with our concept and the type of people we want to fund, as well as helping us come up with an effective programme.

“Not having the burden of administering the whole grant process – assessing and monitoring applications and organising knowledgeable grants panels – has meant we can concentrate on our own roles. The whole process has been very smooth for us and having each applicant assessed and reported on makes decision-making far easier.

“Seeing the breadth of different business proposals and hearing their plans is a fun part of the process. Each applicant is inspiring in their own way. We try and stay in touch with each one through our Business Owner Forums over Zoom, where we connect five or six young grant recipients and give them a place to discuss the highs and lows of their business journey.

“We look forward to seeing how each journey progresses and what impact the grant has had on the applicant.”

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