Budding businesses say what if, Girvan?

The participants in round one of What if ... Girvan
The participants in round one of What if ... Girvan

A group of seven budding entrepreneurs who live or work in the South Carrick area have been selected onto the first group of a new social enterprise programme.

What if ... Girvan is a social enterprise programme aiming to help local people to set up enterprises that make a positive, lasting difference in the area.

The successful ideas include a large outdoor event and farmer’s market, the production of local cider and liqueurs, an apple festival, a coffee roasting facility and creative workshops for under 18s.

What if ... Girvan, delivered by start up social enterprise agency Firstport, put out a call to action in the summer of 2016, inviting people who live and work in South Carrick to come up with ideas that could benefit the local area by recognising, celebrating and utilising existing assets: their natural surroundings, local spaces and the resilience of local people.

The seven successful individuals will now receive business support, expert mentoring and peer support to get their ideas off the ground. They will also be able to apply for seed funding, provided by the William Grant Foundation.

The successful participants are:

Marianne Maxwell; Marianne’s idea is to create a 21st century Glasgow Fair in Girvan. The festival will celebrate successful existing local activity while capturing the spirit of Glasgow Fairs of the past by attracting high profile artists to perform over two days. The festival aims to entertain local audiences and introduce Girvan to a new generation of holidaymakers.

Andrew Sinclair and Lesley Fisher; Andrew and Lesley’s idea is to import coffee from Uganda and make it available for sale in Girvan and surrounding areas. The enterprise will provide training and employment opportunities in Girvan and elsewhere in Ayrshire. Their long term ambition is to employ local people in a roasting facility and coffee shop. Producers in Uganda benefit too, as the enterprise will provide employment in the growing, packaging and export process.

Chelsea Rodger; Chelsea, a trained artist, runs Pastel Fox Studio in Girvan, but wants to develop the space by offering structured classes and a range of creative activities, particularly for those under 18’s. She is passionate about creativity and its role in community cohesion, she hopes that the space will provide a creative outlet for young people and those looking to gain new skills.

Chris and Julie Campbell; Chris and Julie are active members of Girvan Community Garden. They want to maximise the produce from the garden and become more financially independent in the process. Their ideas include using fresh fruit grown in the garden to produce liqueurs, as well as an Apple Festival, which will get the community involved in the process of preparing, collecting and juicing the apples for both juice and cider making.

Pearl McGibbon; Pearl’s idea is to organise a weekly, all year round indoors farmer’s market in Girvan. The market would allow local producers, as well as artists and craft makers, to get their products in front of both locals and visitors. Pearl wants the market to help bring Girvan back as a destination for day/weekend tourist and holidaymakers.

What if...Girvan will open for a second round of applications in 2017. More information is available on www.firstport.org.uk/whatif

Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are delighted to welcome the participants onto the programme and look forward to supporting them as they develop their ideas.

“We have been working with people in the area for the last eight months and they told us about the challenges and the opportunities of the area.

“It is great to see that these have been translated into applications which we can now support and help get off the ground.

“Most of the participants told us that they had been harbouring their idea for a while and that the Calls to Action gave them the encouragement to finally pursue them, which is exactly what What if...Girvan is about - unlocking people’s potential to take the future of their area in their own hands and start working towards building it now.”

Nick Addington, Chief Executive of the William Grant Foundation, said: “Long before William Grant & Sons opened its Girvan distillery, William Grant started his business with an idea to harness the natural resources of his Speyside home to produce ‘the best dram in the valley’.

“We’re excited that our Foundation will now be backing these seven entrepreneurs to pursue their own locally inspired ideas.”

Chelsea Rodger, one of the successful applicants, said: “I grew up in Girvan and I want to improve the town’s connectivity and bring people together through creativity. Girvan deserves to regenerate, bring passing trade through the town and have plenty of choice of activities for both tourists and residents. I am very passionate about doing my part for the town and delighted to have been selected onto the programme”.