Chance to boldly go with £4m Enterprise

Reporter: Jacob Metcalf
Date published: 22 February 2017

A £4 MILLION fund is being invested in Oldham as a catalyst to help the next generation of local entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground and boost the local economy.

Thanks to the help of Stoller Charitable Trust, Oldham Enterprise Fund (OEF) relaunched yesterday at Madhlo Youth Zone as they announced an investment package of £4m.

With the package the fund will act as a hub for businesses in the borough to access support and finance they need to grow.

The OEF is a partnership within Greater Manchester - bringing together the Oldham Enterprise Trust with funding backed by Business Finance Solutions - and this investment will be enhanced by a package of Oldham-based business support backed by the Stoller Charitable Trust, Oldham Council, the European Regional Development Fund and the Manchester Growth Company.

The OEF will continue to provide specific support to Oldham's young entrepreneurs, with grants available for people under the age of 25 and affordable loans available to those aged 25 and over. It is hoped the enhanced partnership will act as a catalyst for the Oldham economy by ensuring that businesses at all stages of growth and development can access the support they need to grow.

Between its launch in January 2013 and December 2016, the OEF supported 100 businesses financially with 38 of those given grants and 66 receiving loans. Four people received both.

The average grant is £3,789.21 and the average loan is £8,645.86 and this has led to the creation of 207 jobs including 90 for people under the age of 25.

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader, said: "Since its launch in 2013 the fund has invested £732,367 in Oldham businesses, either in grants or loans.

"This investment has led to hundreds of jobs being created and has boosted our local economy. The Oldham Enterprise Fund is a key part of our outstanding Get Oldham Working scheme.

"What's also crucial is supporting our young people to reach their potential. That is what this fund has already done for so many and it will continue to do so.

"But everyone should be able to do this no matter how old they are and that is why support is available for people of all ages. This fund supports Oldham, enterprise, employment and our young people."

Sir Norman Stoller CBE KSt DL said: "I am greatly encouraged by the work of The Oldham Enterprise Trust in developing my aim of stimulating, encouraging and supporting enterprise amongst Oldham's young people.

"The funding from the Stoller Charitable Trust has already backed over 100 new start-up businesses which have created over 200 jobs. Thanks to our investment and faith in Oldham, we can look forward to a further influx of £3 million of business finance that is ring fenced for Oldham businesses from the Manchester Growth Company.

"This funding augments the Stoller Trust's ongoing financial commitment and will help create and sustain an enterprise culture and support infrastructure in Oldham that is unique in Greater Manchester."

Peter Treadwell, Business Finance Solutions Operations Director, added: "Business Finance Solutions is excited about working with Oldham on this ground-breaking approach to helping businesses start and importantly grow their businesses.

"More funding is available, more support is available, and now this joined up accessible approach means Oldham businesses have an accelerated pathway to starting and building successful enterprises and driving growth in the borough."

The fund is open to Oldham residents aged 16 and over and non-Oldham residents who will base their business in the borough for a minimum of 12 months and has helped businesses so far including Smoke Yard, North Planet, Jack's Smokehouse, Simply Treats and Aerial Focus.

Christi Elkins and Callam Best, the two young entrepreneurs who started Aerial Focus, a TV production company which uses UAVs and drones, explained how the OEF helped them obtain cameras for their drones with the investment and how thanks to the support they were able to work with companies such as the BBC, Channel 5 and MUTV.

Christi Elkins said: "It helped us out to no end. Without that money we wouldn't have been able to go out and do these jobs.

"I would like to give a massive thanks to everyone involved in the OEF."

Further support is available whether the application is successful or not. Links are made to other national, regional, sectoral, and GM-wide funds.

Apply at