The region’s entrepreneurial spirit has shone through as more than 200 start-up businesses have responded to a new programme to get them ready for business.

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Enterprise agency NWES – which is one of a number of organisations delivering the government funded Ready for Business programme across the country – has worked with the most people and is also close to securing its first loan for a start-up business, with many more expected to follow.

NWES is the lead sponsor of the EDP’s Future 50 which is now looking for its latest class (see panel, right).

The Ready for Business programme – which is designed to support people through the transition from employment to business start-up –was launched after clinching £15m from the government’s Regional Growth Fund.

NWES and the other organisations involved are also working with Barclays Bank, which has invested a further £1m. Kevin Horne, chief executive of NWES, said: “We have had a fantastic response to the Ready for Business programme with over 200 start up businesses attending the introductory seminars.

“It’s early days, but the feedback has been very encouraging. Clients are telling us that we are giving them the confidence, tools and knowledge they need to give their business the best possible start.” The four day, “Business Master class” events concentrate on business planning and providing practical support.

Mr Horne said: “Small businesses are the very heart and soul of the economy. Our job is to help and encourage people through entrepreneurship, giving them the tools and proven techniques that they need to succeed. We see our Ready for Business programmes as the very building blocks needed to significantly influence the future of the local economy. We fully expect to see hundreds of new businesses created in our area in the next three years.

“In turn we expect them to create hundreds of new jobs. Without doubt this is the biggest initiative for start up businesses in Norfolk and Waveney and will have a significant effect on the local economy.”

He added: “While we are in the middle of a prolonged recession it does mean that the barriers to entry are much lower for would be entrepreneurs. This, coupled with the lack of “jobs for life”, mean that this is a great time to embark upon that long cherished aim of self-sufficiency.”

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