GrowBiz is a Perthshire-based charity, founded to provide community-based enterprise support by a group of local people in 2007. It has developed a unique model of relational support for rural enterprise, with a combination of 1-1 coaching and advice, peer learning, mentoring and networking. It is the only organisation of its kind in Scotland.
Operating across the whole of rural Perth and Kinross, and with support from the local LEADER programme, it has successfully supported over 900 rural businesses and social enterprises to start, grow and diversify in the last two years. Every sector is represented, with a particular focus on creative services, tourism, care & wellbeing and niche manufacturing. Improved digital connectivity has encouraged many more diverse and innovative enterprises to grow in rural areas – providing role models and opportunities for the younger generation.
GrowBiz’s team of experienced enterprise facilitators is augmented by trained volunteers offering mentoring, peer support and skills exchange. The team has expertise in a range of digital skills and applications, and has successfully piloted online learning and networking sessions using a video conferencing platform which enables businesses to access sessions at their convenience.
One of GrowBiz’s successes has been the development of four vibrant women’s enterprise networks in Eastern Perthshire, Strathearn, Kinross-shire and Highland Perthshire. Meeting monthly with expert speakers and peer support, these networks have encouraged dozens of women to have the confidence to start and grow new enterprises in rural areas. GrowBiz also works with local schools, including Breadalbane Academy and Blairgowrie High School, to encourage enterprise and entrepreneurial mindsets.
As the only business project in Scotland with accreditation for its mentoring programme, GrowBiz has been cited as an exemplar of rural enterprise support by the Scottish Government, Scottish Enterprise and the European Network of Rural Development. It has won a number of awards for its work and, following a nomination from the Scottish Government earlier this year was selected as a finalist in the European ‘Rural Inspiration’ awards in April 2019.
GrowBiz’s ‘secret’ is to provide the services which its clients need and want. So its programme of peer learning events, for example, is based on subjects requested by clients at previous meetings. With more than 1500 attendances at 113 events in 2018, this formula is obviously working.
Client testimonials tell a story of encouragement and support:
- ‘GrowBiz has given me the skill to grow my business to increase my business profits and allow me to employ a bigger team
- We have found GrowBiz invaluable during the tough trading conditions we recently experienced - with their help we have a much greater understanding of how we can use social media to improve our presence and market more effectively.
- Growbiz is unique in the services it offers to small businesses in rural Strathearn….. you are treated as an individual, with individual needs - they are there to support you 100% of the way and that is both rare and invaluable.