Young people in the Outer Hebrides to lead on enterprise

‘A new project being set up by Cothrom, the South Uist-based learning centre, could see over 200 young people from across the Outer Hebrides given the opportunity to explore enterprising opportunities on the islands.  Over 30 of them will set up in business, or develop a project for their local community.


Enterprise on the Edge is the first project based anywhere in the Highlands and Islands to be shortlisted in a competition for funding from RBS Inspiring Youth Enterprise, already in its third round.


But to be successful, Enterprise on the Edge needs to win a public vote on line.  And as Thomas Fisher at Cothrom explains, that can be a difficult prospect for us with our small population.


“Getting to this stage is a huge achievement for a project which could help young people stay on our islands.  We know that many young people on the islands have inspiring enterprise ideas, and this project will allow them to turn their aspirations into reality.


“It’s a fantastic opportunity for young people on the islands, but to access the funds we need votes and in a remote area that’s a big challenge.  But we’re immensely proud of getting through to the shortlist and we’re urging everyone in the Outer Hebrides to get behind us, and indeed people with Hebridean connections all over the UK and beyond; everyone can vote.  All you need to do is follow this link ( and look for the Cothrom logo.


By the end of 2015 the RBS fund aims to help 100,000 young people to explore enterprise, develop their skills and start up in business, whatever their background.  “Why shouldn’t many of these young people be in the Outer Hebrides, where young enterprise is so critical to our future?” says Mr Fisher.


If Enterprise at the Edge gets enough votes to secure the funding, the project will work closely with local communities across the Outer Hebrides, especially the community land trusts.  Over 50% of land in the Outer Hebrides is now community owned.

Enterprise on the Edge is designed to show that the potential for young enterprise here is significant.  Working with the local community arts centre, Taigh Chearsabhagh, the 30 young people supported through Enterprise on the Edge will record their journeys in video and other media to inspire others, and convince us all that enterprise is possible, even on the very edge.


Enterprise on the Edge will also work closely with the local Prince’s Trust Youth Business Scotland and other local agencies.  Donna Macleod, PTYBS Regional Manager in the Outer Hebrides, was impressed with enterprise work that Cothrom has delivered in schools, in partnership with the local CnES Skills & Enterprise Team:  “I was really impressed at how many young people attended the event and the diversity of realistic ideas. Follow-up is really important following this event for the young people.”


And follow-up will be key to the success of Enterprise at the Edge, not least support within young people’s own communities.  The project will train community mentors, draw together a network of supportive community representatives, and train the young people in peer mentoring to support each other on their enterprising journeys.


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