Next Step Initiative (NSI) is both the leading African Social Enterprise and Leading Ethnic Minority Environmental Project in Scotland. NSI works to empower, improve and transform the quality of life of the deprived and less engaged African Communities in Scotland. Their main purpose is to help individuals and business of Scottish African ethnicity take ownership of their own commercial and community development processes. To that end it provides accessible and culturally relevant facilities, training, support and opportunities.
As a dynamic and forward looking organisation, NSI saw an opportunity to create and provide a virtual office solution, to encourage enterprise within the local community, and to create a much needed income stream for the organisation.
Next Step Initiative were drawn to the flexibility of Start & Grow as they believed the nature of the investment would enable them to operate as a viable business, whilst ensuring they continued to meet their social objectives.
The Start & Grow investment has enabled NSI to offer high quality office and training space at accessible rates. The income generated is now being re-invested in their employability and business start-up support programmes. In the year since receiving the investment, more than 300 people have benefited from the creation of the new service.
Beltus Ojong, CEO of Next Step Initiative said “When considering applying to Start & Grow, the loan element was a challenge, but we had belief in our business model and that we could use the investment strategically, making the investment work for us”.
“The combination of a grant and loan is not a short term fix to plug a funding gap, it’s imperative that as a business you understand the risks and take the necessary steps to mitigate those risks. It requires a long term strategic view, confidence and a continual desire to improve”.
Beltus concludes “If you believe in your own business model, then you have nothing to lose. It’s a worthwhile investment.”