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Lews Castle

Outer Hebrides Business Development Scheme (OHBDS)

Objectives and Assistance

The OHBDS is fully funded by Comhairle Nan Eilean Siar and is designed to encourage new business development including start-up and growth. Awards will be based on business/economic impact and the need for financial support. There is no guarantee of funding and each case will be judged on its own merits.

Discretionary capital grant funding of up to £3,000 is potentially available to pay for the capital investment needed by businesses to adapt, recover, rebuild and/or develop. Examples of capital investment include machinery, tools, equipment, fixtures and fittings, building and groundworks, etc. The grant is paid on approval of your application and supporting evidence.

The primary aim of the scheme is to stimulate new business investment to support recovery and longer-term growth. Funding is available for the following activity:

  • Inward investment – supporting businesses to relocate to the Outer Hebrides
  • Diversification – supporting businesses with plans to adapt and diversify
  • Sustainability/Resilience – supporting activity that will build resilience and make businesses more sustainable
  • Developing Markets – supporting businesses in accessing new markets through the use of technology
  • Digital – support businesses with the development and implementation of new digital systems, to improve business performance and enable growth
  • Growth – encouraging businesses to invest in growth activity
  • Re-build – supporting businesses to recover
  • Start-up – support the development of higher value start-ups
  • Environmental – support the employment of net zero / green measures and promoting more sustainable use of resources
  • Retail Centre Regeneration – support retail centre/ports-of-entry businesses to attract footfall and encourage local spend
  • Cruise Ship Market Development – supporting activity that enhances the local offering to visitors
  • Innovation – support the introduction of innovation into the workplace or the development of innovative products/services
  • Support Local – support opportunities for produce/products to be created closer to the point of consumption, e.g. local food production 

Levels of Grant available

Full-time businesses

Maximum £3,000, towards revenue costs.

Part-time businesses

Maximum of £1,500 towards revenue costs.

Level of Support available

Normally up to 50% of eligible costs.

Eligibility and Conditions

The Outer Hebrides Business Development Scheme is subject to the following conditions:

  • Open to existing businesses based in the Outer Hebrides and to new businesses start-ups unable to access funding from OHYESS. Business owners/applicants must also be based in the Outer Hebrides. 
  • Sole traders, partnerships, limited companies, co-operative groups, social enterprises or other legitimate business trading entities can apply for support.
  • Activity must satisfy the key aims of the scheme, which is to encourage economic and business activity.
  • New visitor accommodation is normally considered ineligible.
  • Applicants must be able to fund the project until the grant can be claimed. Grant payments will be released only upon submission of ‘proof of payment’.  No money should be spent until an application has been approved and an official letter of offer provided.
  • All items purchased should be done using the bank account used by the business. Using other accounts and credit cards, should not be used. Using other accounts owned by family members should not be used. Permission should be sought from Business Gateway if for any reason the normal business account cannot be used.
  • Applicants with income from other employment will be considered part-time.
  • Each application will be considered on its own merits. However, projects in areas which are adequately served by similar existing businesses are unlikely to meet the eligibility criteria.

The following will be required:

New businesses – business plan, financial projections (3-years), application form, supporting information as required.

Existing businesses – accounts, business plan (A4 page project overview may suffice), financial projections, application form, supporting information as required.

In addition, applicants will be required to complete an online application form, provide copies of bank statements, a credit check and any other supplementary information considered necessary to assess their application fully.

Scheme terms and conditions apply and may change from time to time.

For further information, please contact us on