City of Wolverhampton micro and small businesses have started receiving specialist support as part of the first cohort of the Council’s new Relight Business Programme.

Applications are now also being invited for the second cohort, with a deadline of Wednesday 31 March.

The programme went live last month, and the Council’s Business Development team is already working with 30 city businesses in sectors such as hair and beauty, health and wellbeing, photography, manufacturing, painting and decorating, retail and hospitality.

The programme provides financial management advice and digital guidance and is being run in conjunction with the Black Country Chamber of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses.

Each business will receive at least £750 worth of professional support in the form of financial health checks, analysis of funding and cashflow, reviews of products and services, and ways to improve market awareness, with the aim to rapidly build their capacity to survive and grow in the Covid-19 hit economy. 

Membership of the Federation of Small Business or the Black Country Chamber of Commerce is also included as part of the programme.

One company that is being supported is photography, graphic design and print company, Image Squad Ltd.

Its Creative Director/Owner, Lee 'Bear' Guest, said: “It has been a breath of fresh air to be involved in something positive during this testing time.

“I’m finding that as a small business who is cut off from both clients and freelance staff that being part of this scheme is a positive beacon. 

“Too many people are struggling to see a way out of this pandemic, myself included.  However, I refuse to accept that today will be the same as tomorrow. I can start to make changes to ready my business for reopening, whenever that may be.

“The support I have had so far has been helpful and, as someone who is in their 50s, I am embracing both the education and advice available.

“I am a realist and I also know what I have built so far has a long way to go and grow.”

Councillor Stephen Simkins, Cabinet Member for City Economy, said: “These are incredibly difficult times for our small businesses, and we are constantly looking at new ways we can support them and help them bounce back from the current crisis.

“Through our work in administering thousands of vital business grants during the Covid-19 pandemic we have identified where some small businesses need more than just financial support.

“The Relight Business Programme provides more tailored support from business professionals that will help some of our smallest, but most ambitious businesses, survive and grow.”

The programme is aiming to support up to 200 micro and small city businesses in total.

Applications must show ambition and passion about the business and programme. 

Full details, including eligibility criteria and an online application form are available at Wolves in Business.