Those thinking about establishing businesses in the local authority area are being urged to apply for an opportunity to receive monetary and business support as part of a scheme worth £10,000.

The £10k Business Challenge closes for entries on Monday, February 4, and is aimed at those thinking of starting a new business or who have started a new business and have not yet registered on the ‘Go for It’ programme.

The Challenge, now in its third year, has been a huge success in rewarding and acknowledging the creativity and innovation shown by local enterprises. The Challenge is aimed at new businesses and those who have participated in the ‘Go For It’ programme.

Calling on local start-ups to get involved in this year’s £10k Business Challenge, Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Cllr John Boyle said the project is a fantastic way of developing local businesses and giving start-ups a helping hand towards enhancing their business product and availing of new business opportunities.

He said: “The 10K Challenge is aimed at anyone who is thinking of starting a new business or has one set up over the past six months and has yet to register for the ‘Go for It’ programme so they can avail of new opportunities to showcase their creativity and entrepreneurship.

“The Council, through its Business Development team, are very focused on developing local businesses and encouraging our local entrepreneurs and they believe that the £10k Challenge is a great way to demonstrate their entrepreneurship and creativity and be in with a chance of securing one of the many cash prizes and additional support on offer. We also hope to inspire everyone who takes part and create some value to them going forward with their plans.”

Eamon Canning, Managing Director of Campsie based hemp food and CBD supplement producers ‘Hempful’ – formed in 2016 with support from the ‘Go For It’ programme and a runner up in last year’s £10k Business Challenge – added:  “The ‘Go For It’ programme was critical in helping me to reach the point where I could start trading.”

“The programme not only helped guide me through every aspect of a start-up which is the most critical time for any business, but its advisers also helped design our business plan and advised us on the best funding options to set up our facility in Campsie.

“They also pointed us in the direction of Enterprise Week and the £10k Business Challenge where we claimed a £1,000 cash prize to invest in the business.

“I’d therefore really encourage start-ups throughout the council area to register for the ‘Go For It’ programme and apply for this fantastic competition.”

The prize fund of £10,000 is broken down into seven cash prizes including, £2,500 for the first prizewinner, £2,000 for the second prizewinner and £1,500 for the third prizewinner with three runner-up prizes of £1,000 as well as a £1,000 student prize. In addition to the cash prizes, the Council is working with a range of partners including North West Regional College, Ulster University, Intergrade Ireland, Invest NI and other support providers to establish a package of support for all the winners.

And, Louise Breslin, Business Development Manager with Derry City and Strabane District Council, said: “The Council’s Business Development team are committed to developing and expanding our existing business base and entrepreneurial activity is a critical driver of economic prosperity. The Challenge has been a huge success to date with our previous winners really benefitting from being involved and using the prizemoney to fund their business development plans.

“The Challenge is a key element of the business development and promoting entrepreneurship commitment that is set out in the Council’s Strategic Growth Plan. This competition really allows us to engage with businesses and invite them to be creative which in turn will greatly benefit the local economy and provide the support needed for entrepreneurs and organisations who want assistance in bringing to life their ideas and innovations.”

The closing date for entries is 12pm on Monday, February 4. The application process will comprise of a completed application form which will be reviewed by a panel of five judges who will shortlist seven businesses to pitch their business idea at a winners’ announcement event which will be held as part of Enterprise Week on Thursday, March 7.

Applications can be accessed via Derry City and Strabane District Council’s website at www.derrystrabane.com/10Kchallenge

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