Have you got a great business idea for 2021 but don’t know where to start?

Future entrepreneurs in the Lewes district are being encouraged to take part in this year’s Local Enterprise & Apprenticeship Platform (LEAP) business start-up programme.  

Applicants will access a package of tailored support and be in with a chance to win a £2,500 grant to start their business.  

This free programme is funded by Lewes District Council and the European Regional Development Fund via the University of Chichester Business Hothouse programme, and is delivered by Edeal, a not-for-profit agency.  

Councillor James MacCleary, Leader of Lewes District Council and Cabinet member for Regeneration and Prosperity, said: “As part of our commitment to building a strong and sustainable local economy, we continue to invest into and promote this programme which has proved a fantastic springboard for entrepreneurs to launch their own enterprises.  

 “The LEAP business start-up programme is a free and comprehensive package of support to help transform ideas into successful businesses and I wholeheartedly encourage any local person considering starting up on their own to take advantage of this expert help.”

He added: “I’m very pleased that EU funding of £17,500 a year to match our contribution to the programme is continuing this year and for 2022. It has been of great benefit to LEAP over the years will be sorely missed when it comes to end.” 

Last year’s winner Clare Smith(pictured), who lives in Newhaven, enrolled on the LEAP programme to develop her idea for Clare Smith Floristry offering flowers for weddings and events, gift bouquets, and workshops.  

Clare began her LEAP journey by attending a one-day introductory workshop. She was then shortlisted to the next stage of the programme to help her create a robust business plan which involved a series of training workshops and 1-2-1 mentoring from a team of dedicated business experts.  

In the final stage of the programme, the five best business plans are pitched to a judging panel. Clare reached this point and impressed the judges with her ‘wild and modern designs’ which veered away from structured, traditional techniques. She was named the LEAP Entrepreneur of the Year, winning £2,500 to kickstart her floristry business.  

Whatever stage participants reach, Edeal will help local entrepreneurs with their business ideas through the agency’s range of free business support services.  

Interested applicants can register on the LEAP website yourleap.co.uk/leap-start-up-programme or call 01323 641144 to find out more.