The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and X-Forces have launched a new grant fund to help members of the armed forces community start up a business in the Solent region, including here on the Isle of Wight.
‘Bridging the Gap – Armed Forces’ is a new, bespoke fund for the Armed Forces community including service leavers, veterans, famil
y members, spouses, reservists and cadets and will support both new start-ups and established businesses with grants of between £5,000 – £75,000 to create jobs and secure investment.
The fund launch follows an Armed Forces Support Event held at Portsmouth Dockyard last week (15th October), where attendees received advance information on the fund and the package of support available through X-Forces.
X-Forces are well known in the business and military community for their work through mentoring, training, access to finance and linking up with partners and charities providing welfare and support for military families.
Ren Kapur, CEO of X-Forces said:
“X-Forces are delighted to be partnered with Solent LEP to help them support the local Armed Forces community. These individuals are ideally suited to enterprise, as they already have the strong principles, work ethic and adventurous spirit of the Armed Forces. Partnerships with Local Enterprise Partnerships, councils and regions are creating a strong support network stretching across the UK.
“It is very important to provide the right support and create the right environment to help the ex-military understand enterprise, which can lead to fulfilling self-employment.”
James Whelan, Managing Director of WightStream, started his business after a career with the Corps of Royal Engineers. He completed two operational tours in close support of the infantry and one tour in a High Risk Search Team as the Search Team Commander looking for roadside bombs.
Originally from Cheltenham, James settled on the Isle of Wight and launched WightStream with David Tottman in May 2015. The company provides a high quality exterior cleaning and restoration service to the domestic, commercial, industrial and maritime sectors.
“After three tours in Afghanistan, I felt I’d done my part and it was the right time for me to leave.
“The Isle of Wight is a great place to live and run a business, the community is very supportive. David and I are really excited for the future.”
The fund will be operated on a competitive basis and applicants will need to develop a business plan to access the capital funding and demonstrate how they can create or safeguard jobs. Funding from the Bridging the Gap – Armed Forces Fund will need to be match funded with additional investment into the business.
For further information on the fund and how to apply, visit: www.solentlep.org.uk.