A pioneering rural business support scheme is to be extended due to the success of its first cohort.
The Rural Peer Network group, which is funded by Lancashire County Council’s Rural Recovery Fund and delivered by Community and Business Partners, is now able to offer support to a further eleven businesses based in rural areas.
The pilot scheme, which was launched in January of this year, offered weekly group sessions to its members where together they helped to tackle issues they faced. In addition, businesses also benefitted from three one-to-one sessions each with the groups Facilitator and Rural Enterprise specialist, Paul White, over a period of three months.
The feedback from participants has been so positive that Lancashire County Council is running a second peer group in September 2022.
Karen Lawrenson, Senior Project Officer, said: "The needs of Lancashire's rural businesses are different to urban businesses and there was a lack of support specifically for rural micro businesses, which is why this programme has been so successful."
County Councillor Aidy Riggott, cabinet member for economic development and growth at Lancashire County Council, said: "The feedback from those involved with the pilot have been overwhelmingly positive, so it is only right that we extend this further to allow us to support more Lancashire businesses.
"We face a difficult period ahead of us, which is why it is incumbent on the county council to provide our businesses with the support and skills they need to reach their full potential. The Rural Peer Network group is just one of a number of ways we are supporting businesses to do this."
Jaydee Davis, Operations Director at Community and Business Partners, said: “These peer groups have proven to be some of the best business support groups we have seen, particularly for small businesses.
"Often, smaller business owners can feel very much on their own, and working together like this has really helped them. It’s almost as though they have their own board of directors."
Each participant will get nine weeks of two-hour group sessions, as well as three one-to-one sessions with Entrepreneur Paul White, who Founded The Modern Milkman, and who has a Degree in Rural Enterprise.
Paul said: “It has been really incredible to see how these businesses have grown whilst we’ve been working together. I’ve seen lots of different business support through my career, and this has genuinely been some of the best I have seen.
“It’s quite inspiring to get likeminded businesspeople working together, to help grow their business and because it’s all online, it fits in well with business owners who are really busy too."
Then next Rural Peer Network will begin in September. You will need to have a business based in a rural area of Lancashire. To enquire, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find out what participants had to say here: https://vimeo.com/695651018/b9d740556f