To foster greater entrepreneurship within Scottish agriculture and rural communities, Royal Bank of Scotland is working with the Scottish Association for Young Farmers, the Rural Youth Project and the NFU Scotland Next Generation to offer an extension of its Entrepreneur Accelerator programme.
The pilot project will see the bank take its Pre-Accelerator course out of its city hubs in Glasgow and Edinburgh and through a mix of online classes and satellite sessions in towns, offer learnings to help them begin their enterprise and entrepreneurship journey.
Over the course of eight weeks, individuals will complete modules in subjects such as Mindset, Early Stage Business Model Canvas, Customer Validation and Development, and following graduation, have the opportunity to participate in the fuller 16-week course provided by the bank.
Royal Bank has already supported a number of agricultural start-ups through its Entrepreneur Accelerators. However, following consultation with the SAYFC, RYP and NFU, the unique challenges start-ups in rural communities face, the bank has decided to make its Pre-Accelerator more accessible.
The pilot will begin in October and at least 30 people will be able to take part. The SAYFC, RYP and NFU will promote the initiative through their own channels and bank staff will be on-hand at the Royal Highland Show to offer visitors more information.
The bank sponsors the Scottish Young Farmer of the Year competition, and this year’s Scottish Young Farmers’ Finalists will be offered places on the inaugural course.
Janice Cuningham, the Entrepreneurship Development Manager for Royal Bank of Scotland in the West of Scotland, is overseeing the activity.
She said: “The importance of Scotland’s agricultural sector can’t be underestimated – the Royal Highland Show alone brings in £65m to the Scottish economy.
“Our Entrepreneur Accelerators have already assisted agriculture related businesses but this new partnership is designed with agriculture and farming in mind, thanks to the input and work with the SAYFC, NFU and RYP.
“Importantly, this partnership will also help create further collaboration and peer to peer learning, as well as help businesses identify channels of funding.
“Earlier this year the bank published the Rose Review, an independent review into female entrepreneurship, and it showed that only one in three entrepreneurs are women. That disparity is especially acute in the rural and agriculture sectors.
“We hope that initiatives like this will encourage more young people and women the chance to start their business or take the next step in developing their idea.”
NFU Scotland’s Next Generation Chairman, Colin Ferguson, a dairy farmer from Dumfries and Galloway said: “NFU Scotland’s Next Generation Group are delighted to be a partner on this exciting programme which can deliver results to busy individuals from the comfort of their own home or farm.
“The support offered will enable people who want to grow and scale their farms and rural businesses to the next level. The RBS Pre-Accelerator Programme is a great opportunity for inspiring entrepreneurs to get their foot on the ladder or expand on key skills when running their own business.
“In a time of great uncertainty, it has never been more important for farmers to futureproof their businesses and increase their resilience in the current climate and this programme provides a fantastic network of support and a route to improving key business skills.”
Penny Montgomerie, CEO of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs, said: “Collaboration is crucial when it comes to shaping a positive future for the agriculture industry here in Scotland and we are delighted to join Royal Bank of Scotland, NFU Scotland and the Rural Youth Project in delivering a service and support which is often out of geographical reach to many people in the industry.
“We see the ambition and drive of our members across Scotland and the appetite to diversify and develop is there – it is the support to nurture that ambition that is needed. The Pre-Accelerator eco-system can help provide that support and allow people to cultivate their skills, their network and their business.”
Rebecca Dawes, Director of Rural Youth Project, added: “The Rural Youth Project survey identified that employment and education opportunities are front of mind for regional youth with many participants expressing real concerns regarding job opportunities impacting their future. In the face of this, 72 percent of rural youth remain optimistic about their future with many interested in becoming entrepreneurs and small to medium business owners – but for some, they simply don’t know where to start.
This partnership between Royal Bank of Scotland, NFU Scotland Next Generation, Scottish Association of Young Farming Clubs and the Rural Youth Project will support rural youth in their quest to create “cool businesses” and could be one of the solutions to stemming the depopulation of youth from regional areas.”
Yanik Nyberg is the founder of Seawater Solutions, a multi-award winning Scottish start-up company, which aims to revolutionise farming in a bid to halt climate change.
Nyberg spent a year working on setting up the company during his Masters in environmental engineering at the University of Strathclyde. Operating from a farm in Ayrshire and in Glasgow, Yanick is currently taking part in the Accelerator programme.
He said: “The Accelerator programme was an excellent opportunity.
“It was perfect as it helped me to understand how I was going to do it, who I should be collaborating with and what needed to be done to get it off the ground.
“I’m very grateful for the support I had. It was invaluable.”
For more information on Royal Bank of Scotland Entrepreneur Accelerator visit https://www.business.rbs.co.uk... or follow #powerup