Helping Rural Businesses to get Online
Through the Prince’s Countryside Fund, an organisation in Settle is helping creatives to get their businesses online and increase their financial sustainability.
Good Things Foundation is currently rolling out the next phase of a project with the Prince’s Countryside Fund which is exploring how Digital Enterprise Hubs can both support rural business to engage with digital and train community organisations as Digital Enterprise Champions. In turn, those champions will support more rural businesses with digital skills, increasing the amount of support available for rural businesses in the future.
One of our Digital Enterprise Hubs is Airedale Enterprise Services in Keighley which has been providing business support to individuals in the community for the past 36 years. With just 7 members of staff, Airedale Enterprise Services is a “small organisation with big impact.”
CEO Wendy Spencer has worked for Airedale Enterprise Services 22 years. She’s identified three Digital Enterprise Champions, training them to support other rural businesses with their digital skills.
Bespoke beanie maker Andrea is one of the Digital Enterprise Champions working with Wendy. Andrea moved to the rural area of Settle from South Africa with her teenage son a year ago. Over the past 15 years, Andrea has developed a wide variety of business experience, from running her own successful motorcycle retail company to teaching international business in London. She now runs a number of businesses in and around Settle including making and selling bespoke crocheted beanies and delivering creative drawing courses at the Community Development Hub. Wendy describes Andrea as a “bubbly, approachable person who has a lot of knowledge about the area of Settle and the types of clients that she will be supporting, which made her a great fit for a Digital Enterprise Champion.”
Andrea tells us: “Settle is a very rural area and has a vibrant creative scene with lots of artists, creatives and handymen. The pace of life is slower here and everything takes longer because it’s not online. As a result, lots of shops in the town have closed down and quickly been replaced by restaurants which breaks my heart.”
Before recruiting her as a Digital Enterprise Champion, Wendy pointed Andrea in the direction of a free Digital Marketing course provided by the Google Digital Garage. Andrea continues: “In 3 hours you can go from learning the basics of getting your business online for free to actually building a website for your business. It’s great for working in a rural setting as people who aren’t online already would be put off by a 40-hour course.”
Andrea is now in the first stages of supporting other businesses based in Settle to do more online. She says: “I’m working with glassmakers, screenprinting clothing businesses and second-hand bookshops. Previously, none of them had an online presence, they would prefer to be making things but putting their businesses online means that they can share their trades more widely with people all over the world.”