Start-ups in Outer Hebrides targeted by new funding scheme

One of the start-ups supported by an OHYES grant from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides is Seas the Catch, founded by Neil MacLean and brothers, Iain and Stewart MacLean. Picture: Contributed
One of the start-ups supported by an OHYES grant from Business Gateway Outer Hebrides is Seas the Catch, founded by Neil MacLean and brothers, Iain and Stewart MacLean. Picture: Contributed
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Young entrepreneurs in the Outer Hebrides will be able to tap into a new funding stream thanks to a joint initiative launched by Business Gateway Outer Hebrides and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

The Outer Hebrides Young Entrepreneur Start-Up Scheme (OHYESS) will provide grants of up to £2,500 to support entrepreneurs age 18-40 to set up businesses in key sectors.

The scheme has been developed with funding support from HIE and will be delivered by the local Business Gateway team. It is expected to run initially for two years.

This new initiative follows the success of the Outer Hebrides Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme (OHYES), which ran for two years, helping to support 43 business start-ups.

One of the businesses supported by an OHYES grant is Seas the Catch. Launched by three cousins who grew up fishing together on their fathers’ boats off the coast of Harris, the firm supplies locally caught live lobster, crab, prawns and crayfish to eateries across the Highlands and Islands.

The trio - Neil MacLean and brothers, Iain and Stewart MacLean - land catch from five local boats and process the shellfish at Leverburgh Harbour in Harris before packing and shipping the live product to the mainland for consumption.

Rachel MacKenzie, area manager for HIE in the Outer Hebrides, said: "One of the biggest challenges facing any new businesses is securing finance to cover initial capital costs, so HIE is thrilled to partner with Business Gateway Outer Hebrides to provide financial support for OHYESS.

"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."