An initiative aimed at helping build an army of entrepreneurs across the South Wales valleys and worth an estimated £2.9m to the local economy over the past two years is to be extended for another 12 months.
The Welsh Government and Communities First-funded Effect (Enterprise Facilitation for Effective Community Transformation) has supported over 730 individuals involved in start-up ventures, existing business growth and social enterprise creation in Merthyr Tydfil, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and Bridgend, as well as helping create 95 new businesses. The project was initially funded until 31 March 2016 and recently secured funding for a further year.
Effect has assembled a network of professionals from the private, public and voluntary sectors – with experience in areas such as product development accountancy and marketing – to help grow their clients’ businesses.
Among those reaping rewards from the support are an award-winning Ebbw Vale baby and toddler stroller manufacturer, a Treharris bespoke hand-made furniture company, a Cwmbran company providing activities for the disabled, elderly and people with additional needs, and a vintage-style tearoom in Maesteg.
The Heads of the Valleys and Bridgend Effect programme began in May 2014, funded to the tune of almost £430,000 by the Welsh Government, with each local authority providing match funding totalling more than £150,000.
The project is delivered by ‘Enterprise Facilitators’ in each local authority area who provide free and confidential support through their local network of contacts and resources. These include Volunteer Resource Panels, which comprise local business and civic leaders, economic development practitioners and private sector professionals.