Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s Sustainable Development Committee this week agreed to approve proposals to enhance support for youth entrepreneurship across the Outer Hebrides over the coming two years.

Two new avenues for supporting local businesses - Grants for Growth and the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme - were launched recently for delivery by Business Gateway.

These support programmes are designed to complement the support to businesses currently available from the Comhairle, by offering packages of assistance for existing businesses to achieve significant growth and for young entrepreneurs to start their business.

Cllr Donald Crichton, Chairman of the Sustainable Development Committee, said: “I very much welcome these new initiatives which will add to the already successful service offered by Business Gateway. It is vital that new businesses and new business ideas, particularly from our young people, are supported as fully as possible. New businesses create jobs and support the local economy and enable people to stay in the islands which is vital as we face the threat of depopulation. These new initiatives will help in that fight against depopulation”.

The new DigitalBoost Programme will strengthen the local business community’s knowledge and skills in digital technology supporting business to enter new markets, trade internationally, increasing efficiencies and employment opportunities across the islands

The Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (OHYES) will help fill the gap for business start-up funding. The initiative will help support and further strengthen the local economy through the creation of opportunities for young people – helping to reverse the trend of out-migration.

OHYES and The Prince’s Trust will work in partnership to ensure young entrepreneurs receive the optimum level of support, ensuring their business ideas achieve the best start possible.

The Committee’s decision will go to the full Comhairle meeting for ratification on 21 June.