A NEW £820,000 initiative has been launched in the West Midlands to help budding entrepreneurs over the age of 50 to get a new business idea up and running.

Through the Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise, around 240 individual will be helped over the next two years.

The support on offer is funded through just over £412,000 from the European Regional Development Fund, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government and matched by PRIME - Prince’s Initiative for Mature Enterprise.

Communities Minister Baroness Hanham said: “Embarking on a new business venture can be a daunting experience, no matter what age you are. It is initiatives such as this that help support those embarking on new ventures.

“From initial advice and encouragement, right through to business development, individuals with a desire to create sustainable businesses need this support which, I am delighted, will be provided by this important programme.”

Teresa Folkes, director of client services for PRIME, said that the funding received will go towards helping aspiring mature entrepreneurs in the West Midlands go on to set up their own businesses, leading up to 240 new enterprises in the region, as well as employment opportunities for other people.

She explained: “Conversations around unemployment tend to focus on the younger generations but people over the age of 50 are suffering too. People are living longer and will need to continue working, yet the over-50s unemployment rate continues to increase and that means more older people will be competing in the job market.

“We’re delighted to receive this funding as it will allow PRIME to support even more unemployed over-50s in the West Midlands set up a business and get back into fulfilling and sustaining work.

“People over the age of 50 have a wealth of skills and experience and if they are given the right tools to start a new enterprise, they could make a valuable contribution to their local communities and the economy.”

To test out the scheme a small pilot took place last year, with 2,500 people registering their interest within the West Midlands.

Peter Jones of Walsall was one of the people to receive help. He wanted to turn his love of photography into a business and attend one of the PRIME workshops on running a business.

He has since launched his own business, housed in a refurbished old leather mill, where he can display his photos. He is now also looking to grow and set up courses for other budding photographers.

To find out more about the initiative contact Teresa Folkes at PRIME on 0845 862 2023 or e-mail: info@prime.org.uk