By Daniel Hunter

Free expert advice and grants of up to £50,000, are being offered to small business owners and would-be entrepreneurs by Birmingham City Council’s new Enterprise Catalyst Business Support initiative.

The £9.3 million scheme is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is helping to build an entrepreneurial culture in key communities; and provide dedicated support to social enterprises and existing businesses in some of the city’s most disadvantaged areas.

As part of the Council’s drive to regenerate priority neighbourhoods, Enterprise Catalyst will over the next 2 years support 3,500 businesses and entrepreneurs with free independent expert advice, as well as provide up to 50 per cent grant investment - to help get businesses off the ground and grow.

To be eligible for Enterprise Catalyst support; individuals must live, or have a business trading in northwest, central and southeast Birmingham, which makes up the scheme’s target boundary. As part of the eligibility criteria, businesses must demonstrate that they are or will trade within eligible ERDF business activity areas (e.g. not retail activity).

As part of a customised package of business support, Enterprise Catalyst deploys a wide range of experts, including dedicated enterprise coaches, business mentors and specialist service providers to help entrepreneurs tackle key business obstacles that are holding back their entrepreneurial ambitions. These obstacles include issues such as developing a business plan, understanding employment and tax issues, and acquiring much needed financial assistance required to drive forward their enterprises to a better future.

Councillor Tahir Ali, Cabinet Member for Development, Jobs and Skills said: “Entrepreneurs and small businesses that create growth are one of the keys to economic recovery. For us to be an Enterprise City, we need to encourage greater growth in private sector businesses and social enterprises that employ and train local people and make a positive contribution to the communities in which they operate."

Financial backing can often be the most daunting prospect to overcome, which is why Enterprise Catalyst not only provides financial support for entrepreneurs and start-ups at varying stages of the business development journey, it also offers much needed mentoring and advice throughout the whole process.

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