Applications open for Lewes district’s business start-up programme

Oanh Brophy.
Oanh Brophy., previous LEAP winner

Budding entrepreneurs across Lewes district can turn their business dreams into reality by applying to join the Local Enterprise & Apprenticeship Platform (LEAP) business start-up programme for 2022.

Starting in January, everyone taking part gets access to a free programme of tailored business support and they have an opportunity to win £2,500 towards their start-up.

The LEAP programme is funded by Lewes District Council and is delivered by Edeal, a not-for-profit agency.

Councillor James MacCleary, Deputy Leader of Lewes District Council and Cabinet member for Regeneration and Prosperity, said: “This will be our ninth year of supporting Lewes district residents to launch their own enterprises through this excellent scheme, which provides expert help in getting people’s business ideas up and running.

“Through workshops, seminars and one-to-one mentoring, participants on the LEAP programme are supported to create their own business plan which is so vital at the start of any business journey, along with impartial guidance from experienced mentors. 

“I urge anyone living in Lewes district or planning to open a business here to take advantage of this great, free service.” 

Last year's winner Oanh Brophy enrolled on the LEAP programme to develop her idea for her new start-up called Return Ware, which provides reusable containers to restaurants so that people can choose to have a waste free takeout and help eliminate single use food packaging.

Oanh began her LEAP journey by attending a one-day introductory workshop in January (there is also a two-day virtual workshop in February). She was then selected to the next stage of the programme to help her create a robust business plan.

At the end of the programme, finalists pitch their business plan to a judging panel in a Dragon’s Den style event. Oanh impressed the judges and was named the LEAP Entrepreneur of the Year 2021, winning £2,500 to kickstart her reusable container for restaurants business.

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

Councillor MacCleary added: “Every year, approximately 660,000 new start-ups register in the UK but unfortunately around 80% of businesses fail in year one.

“The LEAP programme is invaluable in helping local entrepreneurs navigate their way though starting up a business and giving them the knowledge they need to thrive such as legal advice, marketing guidance and financial support.”

Interested applicants can now register on the LEAP website