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The Entrepreneurial Exchange

Alness Diver Wins Business Growth Award

The founder of Fisherman Direct won a prestigious award for his business growth at the annual Prince’s Scottish Youth Business Trust (PSYBT) Growth Fund Awards which took place in Glasgow last night.

David Skea (21), proprietor of Fisherman Direct based in Alness, and joint winner of the ‘Business Growth’ award was one of four businesses recognised at this year’s PSYBT Growth Fund awards, sponsored by Bank of Scotland Business Banking.  

Mr Skea founded his business in May 2004 supplying live diver caught shellfish to markets in London, Spain and Singapore.  David and a team of five divers, including his father, hand pick the shellfish from Scottish coastal waters before packaging and transporting the produce to markets worldwide. 

Mr Skea was awarded a Growth Fund Accelerator Loan to help fund the costs of building a depuration and despatch centre which opened in November last year. As well as being able to charge higher prices for shellfish which have been depurated, the new facility means he can also store live crustaceans ready for air transport to the live prawn market in Spain.

During the coming months Mr Skea is hoping to diversify into other species of shellfish such as lobster and is also considering increasing the number of divers. The business employs seven full-time and two-part time staff and is projecting a turnover of more than half a million in the current financial year.

Sharing the podium for the ‘Business Growth’ award was Lesley Farmer who runs The Dance OFF Academy in Clydebank which caters for dancers looking for ‘fun and fame’ as well as those seeking a career in performing arts. Alasdair Campbell, proprietor of AC Gold Ltd, an electrical services firm based in Stirling which employs 40 staff and has a turnover of £2million was  declared winner of the ‘Determination to Succeed’ award. Lanarkshire based Paul Sommerville, proprietor of Cradlesafe, won the Business Innovation’ award for a new baby monitor, which he has been working on since 2005, and is ready to be launched early next year.

All of the winners were presented with specially commissioned silver quaichs by PSYBT Chairman, Shonaig MacPherson and were congratulated in a keynote speech by Gio Benedetti CBE, who was made vice chairman of PSYBT last year and has served on the PSYBT Board since its inception in 1990.

The Growth Fund award scheme was launched in 2002 to help PSYBT supported entrepreneurs who had been in business for at least one year and wanted to expand, but were still struggling to raise the necessary finance. Funding for The Growth Fund came from an initial pledge of £125,000 from Sir Tom Hunter and further backing from Scottish Enterprise, the Highlands and Islands Enterprise and private donations.  Since then a further £645,000 has been received from other benefactors including European Regional Development Funds, the Entrepreneurial Exchange, the Binks Trust and the City Charitable Trust and the fund is now self-sufficient with the repayments from existing loans now funding all the new investments.

Growth Fund applicants can apply for either the ‘Development Loan’ of up to £10,000, or for more significant funding - access the ‘Accelerator Loan’ of between £10,000 and £25,000.  Recipients of both loans also receive business advice and aftercare mentoring delivered by 18 PSYBT regional managers and various volunteers Scotland-wide, which helps get them investor ready and assists with their growth plans.

To date, an investment of £1.5 million has funded 122 Growth Fund businesses and allowed them to generate a further £3.07 million of funding to implement their growth plans.  Collectively the recipients predict an increase in turnover of £17.29 million in the 12 months following the investment and the creation of 197 jobs. 

Speaking at the awards Mark Strudwick, Chief Executive of PSYBT said: “Our winners have demonstrated outstanding courage, determination and self belief in themselves and their ambitions. They are an inspiration to everyone, most especially other young entrepreneurs fulfilling their self employment career plans and we congratulate them on their achievements to date.

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