The Kennedy Accountancy Community Credits Scheme: What’s it all about?
The Scheme provides part subsidised start-up advice, along with bookkeeping and accountancy services to local start-up businesses who struggle to access funding from any other source.
It was born out of my frustration at the lack of financial support for the businesses who provide vital services to our community, all year round. The Scheme is open to businesses within Lochalsh and Skye who have been trading for 2 years or less and who are not in the tourism, food and drink, eco/sustainability or technology sectors.
Read on to find out more detail about the whats and the whys behind the scheme, along with the application procedure.
What is the Scheme?
The Scheme is my way of supporting local businesses who are unable to access cash funding from any of our local funding bodies. This is a big problem in our area (more on the why below) and this is just my little bit in helping to solve it.
The Scheme provides part subsidised accountancy fees to start-up businesses (in their first 2 years of trading) for the first year we work together. The businesses can get the crucial start-up advice they need plus ongoing bookkeeping and accountancy services at a part subsidised rate during that start-up phase when cash is the most tight.
This is for those businesses who might struggle to know how to run a business in the first couple of years and who need good advice, but might not be able to afford it right at the start.
It’s my way of giving something back to the community that is so important to Kennedy Accountancy.
Why am I doing this?
Community and business; two of my favourite things at Kennedy Accountancy. I love getting out and about talking to good people doing good things in our local community.
It takes something special to go out and start a business. Guts, tenacity and a strong work ethic are essential, but knowledge and education are also needed. If you have never been self employed or involved in a business before then you need a basic level of knowledge and understanding around some key business concepts in order to get your business off to the best possible start. You might also need some hard cash to get you started, and you need to know where to go to look for that.
I started the business in October 2020, and we now work with over 80 business clients, 80% of whom are based in Lochalsh & Skye. Over 20 of those businesses are new start-up businesses from a range of industries. The common problems I noticed whilst helping these businesses get off the ground were these:-
- Limited knowledge around how to take care of basic business finances;
- No commercial awareness or previous experience of how to run a profitable business;
- A lack of cash for investment in staff, equipment, infrastructure etc;
The first two in this list are things I, as a Chartered Accountant with a diverse client base, am well equipped to help with. The third, however, is outwith my control.
For businesses in our region, Highlands and Islands Enterprise are the economic and community development agency where businesses of all sizes can access support and funding for their business.
Their mission statement is to help build a prosperous, inclusive and sustainable economy across the Highlands and Islands, attracting more people to live, work, study, invest and visit.
By looking at their funding approvals published on their website, HIE’s apparent focus is on tourism, food and drink, energy and tech/innovation, with these industries sharing the majority of recent funding allocations within Lochalsh, Skye & Wester Ross.
To give a bigger picture, their overall funding for the period 1st April to 31st May 2022 for their whole catchment area was £1.9m. 82% of that pot was split between tourism, food and drink and technology sectors. (figures acquired direct from HIE)
Our beautiful local community attracts many visitors every year and tourism plays a big part in our economy. I have a tourism business myself. However, tourism and food and drink businesses are not what makes a community.
What makes a community is every local business, including those who serve the community (and the tourism based businesses) when the tourists have all gone home.
Think joiners, plumbers, hairdressers, beauticians, mechanics…without these businesses we wouldn’t have a community, yet when it comes to where these businesses go when they are trying to start up, the lack of financial help is appalling.
They are at the heart of our local economy, yet they are consistently overlooked by blinkered funding criteria.
I think you will understand by now my frustration. So I decided to channel it into something positive and began to consider ways I could make a contribution back to the community and help these service based businesses in some way.
I started thinking, how can I solve this problem?
Well I can’t, not fully. However, I can make a contribution using my skills as a Chartered Accountant, and this is where the Kennedy Accountancy Community Credits Scheme comes in.
How do businesses apply?
The criteria for joining the scheme is as follows:-
- In the first two years of trading, or not yet started;
- Be based and operating from Lochalsh, Skye or Lochcarron;
- Not be in the tourism, food/drink industry, technology or eco/sustainability industries;
- Not have received any previous grant funding (Covid Recovery schemes or Digital Boost do not apply);
If you think you need this help in your business and that you meet the criteria, just click here to apply for the scheme or to find out more information. Once you have filled in the form someone will be in touch to discuss further. I look forward to helping as many businesses in our amazing local community as possible!*
I am delighted to welcome the first business to the scheme, who like many others have been met with stumbling blocks in terms of accessing funding and good advice.
That business is SR Garage & Mechanical Services Ltd, based in Inverinate and run by local lads Robert MacRae and Shaun MacLean. They were born and brought up in the area and to see them start up in business is brilliant. They deserve to get as much support as possible so they can provide their vital service to our community. If you need the services of a car garage then they are your lads.
Robert and Shaun, directors of SR Garage, have this to say about being able to access the Scheme…
‘It is so daunting starting your own businesses, especially in the current state of the world, and with a severe lack of help or funding coming from anywhere else it has been a fantastic help getting on board with Karen’s scheme, providing us with a brilliant service at a lower fee until we get a year’s worth of trading under our belts. She has helped us greatly with the ins and out of starting and running your own business. Good advice from the start is invaluable.
Click below to make your application to the Scheme.
*The Scheme is funded solely by Kennedy Accountancy. Therefore, Karen Kennedy, as director of Kennedy Accountancy, has final say on who gets a place on the Scheme.