Four talented Ayrshire College students are the first to receive grants to help them start up their own business, thanks to the generous funding from the Ayrshire College Foundation Enterprising Students Fund.
The Ayrshire College Foundation provides funding of grants up to £5,000 for students of Ayrshire College who are interested in developing ideas to start up their own business. To help students develop their enterprising skills, the College is working in partnership with Bridge 2 Business to support idea development.
Students are mentored by a Bridge 2 Business programme executive to create a business development plan. They can access the support and advice needed at the early stages of planning a business, during regular one to one sessions on campus. This is the first time a full-time enterprise programme executive has been based in a College.
There are currently 97 students working on a business plan. Those who complete the plan to a high standard, go forward to a judging panel, and if successful, will be awarded grant funding.
First up was HNC Art and Design student, Sandra Laurenson, 39, from Prestwick who impressed the judges with her creative skills, designing personalised free motion embroidery pictures. Sandra said, “I am absolutely thrilled to receive this grant to buy a new sewing machine. This will open up opportunities for me to expand my product range, and production capacity of Jolly Well Made. It has given me so much confidence in myself, and I am very excited about the future as I just love what I do.”
Enterprising HNC Business Management student, Aaron Gregory, 20, from Ayr has started a business, Pathogen Merchandising and Fulfilment, selling promotional merchandise for bands worldwide. Arron says, “The grant is amazing, and means that my business idea can now move from the planning stage, to becoming a reality. The opportunities I have been given by coming to college are fantastic, and I am fully embracing all of them. I am passionate about music, enjoy networking, and with the business skills I am learning, I am looking forward to a bright future doing what I love to do.”
NC Sound Production student, Scott Haddow, 28, from Irvine has started a business Eleven:Eleven offering a range of entertainment to bars, clubs, hotels and hosting private events across Ayrshire and Glasgow. Entertainment ranges from Comedy Nights, Live Music Evenings to Magic Shows and a Variety Show. Scott says, “I am delighted to be awarded this grant, and knowing the judges believed in me has given me confidence. This experience has lifted my aspirations. If I had not come to college, I would not be doing this now. I used to be a fencer, but now I am doing what I want in life. I am hardworking and driven, but I don’t see it as work, because I’m doing something I love.”
The final student to be awarded the grant is Bryan Shaw, 25 from New Cumnock, who is studying HNC Photography. Bryan’s business is called 1815 Media and is a photography and videography business. Bryan says, “I have turned a hobby into a career. My college lecturers have inspired me by pushing me further, and they have really developed my potential. I’ve had so much encouragement to create a business plan, and it’s helped build up my confidence and believe in myself. The whole experience has prepared me for life after college, and raised my aspirations to go further and higher.”
Tracey Stark, Chair of the Ayrshire College Foundation said, “It has been positive and uplifting to see the level of interest from students who want to start their own business. We were impressed with the high standard of entries, the variety of business ideas, and the passion and energy from all these students. These students are studying full-time, some have part-time jobs or family commitments, and they are working all hours to get their business off the ground. The grants will provide the help they need to get started or to develop their business further. It’s been a privilege to be able to support these young people at this stage in their careers, and make their business dreams a reality. It just shows, whoever you are or wherever you come from, if you really believe you can do it, you can!”
Students who want to find out more about business start-ups and accessing the Enterprising Students Fund can find out more here.