Two hundred jobseekers have started their own business in mid Yorkshire with the help of an enterprise scheme run by West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency.
The Agency (Mid Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce's enterprise arm) delivers the scheme in West Yorkshire in partnership with Jobcentre Plus to help the long-term unemployed who have a business idea but need support to get it off the ground.
In the fourteen months to September, 94 jobseekers from Wakefield, 72 from Kirklees and 34 from Calderdale had signed-off jobseekers allowance to start their own business through the scheme.
One local man to do just that is David Armitage, 56, who signed-off in July to start his own auto-body repair business from a leased plot on Millennia Park in Wakefield.
David from Ossett (pictured with his mentor on the right) spent ten months looking for work before deciding to go it alone and says he couldn’t have done it without the support he received through the enterprise scheme.
His personal adviser at Wakefield Jobcentre referred David to the Agency when she found out about his aspirations to become self-employed in the motor-trade.
David said: "When you get to my age it’s not easy to get a job and I’m not used to being out of work so this scheme gave me the opportunity to do something for myself."
The dad of four will receive a weekly payment, known as "New Enterprise Allowance", for his first 26 weeks of trading to help take the financial pressure off as the business grows.
David was also able to apply for a £1000 loan and admits that without this money to cover some of the start-up costs he wouldn’t have been able to get the business off the ground.
The loan paid for a much-needed new compressor and the investment is already paying off as the busy businessman has jobs lined-up and is even thinking of extending his premises.
As his new business grows, David will be able to rely on the guidance and support of his own business mentor assigned to him by West Yorkshire Enterprise Agency.
All the mentors are volunteers from the business community who have offered to give up an hour every fortnight to support a participant as they prepare to start trading and beyond.
Roger Lawton from Finance Projects Ltd in Leeds was matched to David because of his expertise in securing funding for small-to-medium sized businesses.
He said: "David is a pleasure to work with because he genuinely wants to be a success and we get on very well. It’s nice to meet someone who is so passionate about what they do."
To find out more about becoming a mentor vist www.mycci.co.uk/MYMentor or for information about joining the scheme, contact Melissa Healy on 01924 786500.