A new scheme backed by the Prince of Wales is aiming to help around 240 people aged over 50 to start up new businesses in the West Midlands over the next two years.
It follows a successful pilot project in the region last year which saw 2,500 sign up to register their interest.
Today’s new initiative will provide £820,000 of funding to porvide support, guidance and hands-on help to budding entrepreneurs to get their new business ideas up and running.
Through the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise – or PRIME – the aim is to help 240 individuals over the next two years.
One of the people to benefit from the pilot scheme last year was Peter Jones, a 57-year-old photographer who has refurbished an old leather mill in Walsall town centre to launch his own business after being helped by the charitable enterprise.
After many years working in the building trade, Mr Jones found himself among the ranks of the long-term unemployed in the late 1990s.
He then went on a Government training scheme and became a trainer, before going on to become a contracts manager in Manchester and company adviser for employability skills in Yorkshire.
But recently he opted for a career change and went on a preparing-to-run-your-own business course after contacting The Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise.
He said: “I learned how to prepare properly and understand things like costs.”
Mr Jones has successfully launched his business in the old Bradford Lane leather mill where he can display his photos. He is now looking to expand and set up courses for other budding photographers.
The funding from the new scheme comes from just over £412,000 from the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and matched by PRIME.
Communities Minister Baroness Hanham said: “Embarking on a new business venture can be a daunting experience, no matter what age you are. It is initiatives such as this that help support those embarking on new ventures.
“From initial advice and encouragement, right through to business development, individuals with a desire to create sustainable businesses need this support which I am delighted will be provided by this important programme.”
Teresa Folkes, director of client services for PRIME, said that the funding received will go towards helping aspiring mature entrepreneurs in the West Midlands go on to set-up their own businesses, leading up to 240 new enterprises in the region, as well as employment opportunities for other people.
“Conversations around unemployment tend to focus on the younger generations but people over the age of 50 are suffering too,” she said. “People are living longer and will need to continue working, yet the over 50s unemployment rate continues to increase and that means more older people will be competing in the job market.
“We’re delighted to receive this funding as it will allow PRIME to support even more unemployed over 50s in the West Midlands set up a business and get back into fulfilling and sustaining work. People over the age of 50 have a wealth of skills and experience and if they are given the right tools to start a new enterprise, they could make a valuable contribution to their local communities and the economy.”
To find out more contact Teresa Folkes at PRIME on 0845 862 2023 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org