Skills and Opportunities Supporting Entrepreneurship

Skills and Opportunities Vote Launch


The Skills and Opportunities Fund is an initiative making a huge impact throughout communities across the UK and the Republic of Ireland including through providing opportunities for entrepreneurship to flourish.

To date, the Royal Bank of Scotland Group’s Fund has distributed £4,965,904.64 to projects supporting disadvantaged groups, including charities, social enterprises, community groups, state-funded schools and colleges, committing to provide £7.5m by 2017. The focus for the Fund is to support organisations that help people in disadvantaged communities develop, create or access the skills and opportunities they need to help themselves; skills that will enable them to get into work or start a business, now or in the future.

Incredibly, the fund has already reached 42,888, with a far great impact projected once the £7.5m commitment has been met and the funded projects complete their work.

As part of our exploration into how groups, businesses and individuals overcome barriers to entrepreneurship, we look at examples of how projects supported by the Skills and Opportunities Fund have supported enterprise to flourish.


Young Enterprise Northern Ireland, Quickstart

Between December 2015 and June 2016 young people aged 14-16 took part in programmes in which they set-up and ran their own mini enterprise over 10 weeks. Exciting challenges such as pitches, competitions and skills workshops helped give the youngsters insight into valuable employability and entrepreneurship lessons.

The Quickstart project provided 1,949 young people from 21 schools and three community groups in socially disadvantaged communities across Northern Ireland to gain an understanding of the mechanisms of running a business.

Finalists from different schools were selected and were challenged to create a video pitch to promote their business. These were judged at a grand final event held in May 2016. Banbridge Academy students were crowned winners for their business ‘File It’, which collects outdated files from around the school and upcycled them for resale.


Lewisham Mencap, Ignition Breweries

Ignition Breweries, an initiative by Lewisham Mencap, used Skills and Opportunity funding to support the start-up costs of a micro-brewery, achieving their objective of creating a fully sustainable business that is staffed by people with learning disabilities from the local area

The programme not only created training and employment opportunities for five adults who face disadvantage in gaining work as a result of their disability, but offered them the opportunity to become part of the buzzing, local brewing community. The venture, has created a platform for challenging common public perceptions of those with learning disabilities.


GIY (Grow It Yourself), GIY Cottage Market 

A social enterprise encouraging people to grow their own food, GIY (Grow It Yourself) engages communities around the values of food, food growing and healthy lifestyle choices.

Skills and Opportunities funding is being used to run a new GIY Cottage Market, which provides rural homegrown and homemade food producers with the opportunity to setup 12 community markets through which to sell and share their products. The programme provides grassroots producers and microenterprises with training, skills and ongoing support to make the venture a success.

The project will support at least 168 people, as well as bringing together local communities and spreading a positive message about the value of homegrown produce.


WALK PEER Programme, Building Entrepreneurial and Employability Skills

Between July 2015 and February 2016, WALK PEER delivered a programme which built entrepreneurship and employment skills amongst young people with an intellectual disability or autism attending special schools in Drogheda. The learning bridged the gap between business and special education communities to foster the first steps to having a career.

The project supported 53 students to develop and demonstrate their enterprise and employment skills. A Christmas pop-up shop was organised, offering the young people an important opportunity to demonstrate their potential to their families and the wider community. Large local employers also got involved, including McCluskey’s and Heinz Foods. They worked with the young people, supporting marketing and enterprise skills workshops.


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