How Oxfordshire LEADER is helping rural businesses

European funding programme LEADER has £1.55 million available to grant to businesses in Oxfordshire before March 2019. With grants of up to £100,000 available for each project, the programme invites a broad section of applicants in rural areas, from farmers and foresters to businesses and community organisations.

The map below shows LEADER areas, with the majority of the county in the ‘Oxfordshire LEADER’ area, complemented by ‘North Wessex Downs’ and ‘Chilterns’ programmes.

Oxfordshire LEADER

One business which has already benefitted from an Oxfordshire LEADER grant is Oxford Oak, originally a one-man enterprise creating bespoke outdoor furniture. Based at the Wood Centre in Long Wittenham, it was awarded a LEADER grant last year for new workshop equipment. This has provided a crucial stepping stone for the micro-business to expand and take on another member of staff.

Oxfordshire LEADER

Rodas Irving, owner of Oxford Oak, said: “It’s had quite a big impact. Since the grant was awarded we’ve had three large orders come through and the new equipment has allowed us to work through these faster than before. We are now working more efficiently so it has freed up time for me to spend on marketing and getting more business in. Last week I took on a new permanent worker.”

“The application process looks quite daunting when you first start, especially if you haven’t done this sort of thing before. But it’s worthwhile as it forces you to work through how you are going to expand your business and this helps get it clear in your own mind. It’s essential to get the objectives and benefits of the project right early on. The LEADER staff are very helpful when it comes to giving advice on how to write the document.”

If your business could benefit from a boost, why not have a look at our dedicated SO Business LEADER page on the website, and see if you can access valuable funding?