Outer Hebrides

Whether you are starting or growing a business, we provide access to a range of business support services.

The Outer Hebrides IT systems are currently down, if you need to get in touch with us, please call 07970959204 or email businessgateway@cne-siar.gov.uk.

Business Gateway Outer Hebrides is part of the Economic Development team at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council). We offer a variety of initiatives which provide support for new and existing businesses in the Outer Hebrides.

Thinking of Starting a Business?

There are many ways we can support your start-up journey.

Our Planning To Start tool is a great place to begin. It takes just 10 minutes to complete and provides you with an instant toolkit with key resources & information. We'll then connect you with a member of the team at our local office for further support.

Our website offers a business plan guide and template to download when you’re ready, market reports and research, as well as handy online guides and articles, video tutorials and podcasts. Plus, we have a great range of webinars to hone your start-up skills – from writing a business plan to marketing on a budget.

With our help, you could be in business sooner than you imagined.

Running a Business?

Our 1:1 advice, online resources and webinars can help you plan, adapt and grow.

We know that your time is in short supply, so we offer 1:1 advice at a time and day to suit you. Together, you and your business adviser can create a strategic action plan to suit your ambitions.

Our online resources and webinars can help you learn new skills, create opportunities and gain confidence. From HR to restructuring, innovation and digital marketing - we can help. And if specialist input is required, we can connect you to other sources of support.

Improve your Digital Skills

Access webinars, online guides and a Digital Health Check.

From digital marketing strategy to social media, e-Commerce, cyber security and more, we can help boost your digital performance.

Our Digital Health Check is a great place to start. It will help pinpoint your digital strengths, areas you could improve, and how we can help, and it only takes 5 minutes to complete.

Meet an Adviser

Business Gateway offer FREE advice and support to help you develop your ideas into an effective and practical plan. With a network of experienced business advisers we can work with you in confidence, to help you reach your full potential.

As an example you can get help in the following areas:

  • Creating your business plan
  • Getting the most from your advertising and marketing
  • Thinking about taking on staff
  • Researching your business idea
  • Find out what funding you can apply for
  • Registering with HM Revenue and Customs
  • Finding and keeping customers
  • Access to professionally-drafted contracts and legal document template

Our advisers cover the area and are happy to come and meet you locally or support you by phone or email. All you need to do is get in touch to arrange a convenient time.

Business Information and Funding

With access to a wealth of FREE information, Business Gateway can help businesses grow or develop. With research and information sourced from commercial, government and industry bodies we can help you source market intelligence, stay up-to-date with the latest news in your industry, identify competitors and potential customers and whether a potential supplier is reliable.

Micro Business Loan - (CnES - RLF)

This 'Interest-Free' loan of up to £2,000 aims to encourage the creation and growth of small businesses, which can contribute to new jobs in the local economy. The loan programme is funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Business Loan - (CnES - RLF)

This loan of up to £50,000, repayable up to 7 years at an interest rate between 4 and 6% (depending upon amount/security), is to encourage business start-up and enable business and community developments by assisting with long-term sustainability in the Outer Hebrides. The loan programme is funded by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar.

Outer Hebrides Fisheries Investment Scheme

Funding available for the purchase of fishing vessels. Loans of up to £100,000 (commercial interest rates apply).

Community Support

The Community Regeneration team offer tailored advice and support to new and developing community businesses and social enterprises.

Business Property Portfolio

A list of business units, properties and land for lease / sale by the Comhairle is available here. Highlands & Islands Enterprise may also have business units for lease and should be contacted on 01851 707 300 for further information.

Outer Hebrides Business Directory

Free online directory for all business based in the Outer Hebrides. Find out more.

Outer Hebrides Young Enterprise Support Scheme (OHYESS)

OHYESS is funded by Highlands & Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by the Comhairle’s Business Gateway service. It is designed to fill the gap for business start-up funding for entrepreneurs and development funding for early-stage companies. The scheme provides grant funding for businesses in key sectors that have been trading for no longer than five years. The funding can be used for capital costs only: up to £5,000 grant for full-time businesses and up to £1,500 for part time businesses.

The level of support is normally up to 50% of eligible costs and up to 70% will be available for projects that include any of the following: applicants under 30; net zero, cruise market product development and Uist repopulation zone.

Outer Hebrides Youth Enterprise Programme (OHYEP)

OHYEP is financed by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and delivered by the Comhairle’s Business Gateway service. It is available for young entrepreneurs aged 18 – 35 with a new or existing business. The programme is designed to help young business owners gain valuable business skills, learn from mentors and access financial support. The grant funding will be used towards revenue costs only: up to £2,000 grant for full-time businesses and up to £1,000 for part time businesses.

The level of support is normally up to 75% of eligible costs. Applicants are required to sign up to a structured aftercare programme which includes access to specialist one-to-one support.

COVID-19 Economic Recovery Grant Scheme (CERGS)

CERGS is designed to help the local economy recover from COVID by supporting businesses and social enterprises with grant funding to aid recovery, build resilience and encourage development. The funding can be used for capital costs only: up to £2,000 grant for full-time businesses and up to £1,000 for part time businesses.

For each of the grant schemes (OHYESS, OHYEP, CERGS), businesses must be based in the Outer Hebrides and applicants must be able to fully fund the project until the grant can be claimed. Payments will only be released upon submission of proof of payment. The funding cannot go towards items or services that have already been purchased. Please note new tourism accommodation projects are ineligible for support.

Help with Business Rates

There are a number of relief schemes available which offer reduced non-domestic rates to qualifying business.

These include reliefs for small businesses (Small Business Bonus Scheme), empty properties, charities, rural businesses, renewable energy producers and nursing care establishments.

Planning and Building Standards

Advice and guidance on planning issues is available.

Find out online if you need planning permission or a building warrant, make an application, find out about an application that has been made, or find out more about long term policies such as the Local Plan.

Licensing

Find out if you need a licence, permit or permission for your business, and get information on making an application

Find out more here. Many licences can be applied for online.

Environmental Health

The work undertaken by Environmental Health includes food safety, environmental protection, public health and housing, environmental health licensing, animal health and welfare and occupational health and safety.

Advice and information is available to help businesses within the Outer Hebrides ensure compliance with this legislation.

Trading Standards

Trading Standards helps to maintain a fair and safe trading environment where local businesses and consumers can thrive.

Advice and information is available to help businesses within the Outer Hebrides ensure compliance with this legislation.

Outer Hebrides Factfile

The Outer Hebrides Factfile contains information and facts on all aspects of life and culture within the Outer Hebrides.

Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce

The Outer Hebrides Chamber of Commerce is an independent, not-for-profit organisation providing valuable services to businesses of all sizes across the islands.

They serve a vibrant and diverse business landscape, working in partnership with their members to benefit the region.

The Chamber strives to develop an economy that is sustainable and successful. Their focus is to protect and promote the interests of local businesses and the wider community and is dedicated to promoting, strengthening and connecting the growing business community.

The Women's Business Centre

The Women's Business Centre is a website designed to support women at the pre-start and start-up through to growth stages of their business journey.

Operated by Women’s Enterprise Scotland, the Women's Business Centre website is free to access and offers dedicated, needs-based content on starting and growing a business, including stories, encouragement and top tips from leading business owners across Scotland.

Supplier Development Programme (SDP)

The Supplier Development Programme provides support through a range of free tender training, e-learning modules and Meet the Buyer events to help Scottish SMEs, social enterprises and third sector organisations in bidding for public sector opportunities.

Redundancy Support

Your local Business Gateway office can offer free support to any business considering making redundancies.

Our advisers can help you look at your business challenges and then help you make the next practical steps. Along with that we can introduce you to PACE – Partnership Action for Continuing Employment.

Other Business Support across Scotland

Information on the free advice and support available from Scotland’s public sector business support organisations is available to find, all in one place, at Find Business Support.

Find your nearest office

Business Gateway Stornoway

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Sandwick Road
Stornoway
HS1 2BW
Get directions
01851 822 775

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday

09:00 to 17:00

Business Gateway Balivanich

Comhairle nan Eilean Siar
Balivanich
Isle of Benbecula
HS7 5LA
Get directions
01851 822 775

Opening hours:

Monday to Friday

09:00 to 17:00 (by appointment)