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Two local business entrepreneurs have been appointed to head up the Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) team in the Western Isles and drive forward the charity’s mission to give all local schoolchildren access to enterprise learning.

Claire Macleod, founder of Orbit Agency, takes up the role of co-chair at the volunteer group based in Stornoway alongside Jamie McGowan, managing director and founder of Essence of Harris.

Together, Claire and Jamie will co-ordinate efforts to introduce more schools and more students to entrepreneurial skills development through the YES Company Programme.

With their team of business advisers, as well as fundraising and organising events, their role includes working directly with senior school students who set up their own commercial ventures as part of the Company Programme.

Last year, more than 300 students across Scotland achieved an SCQF level six accredited qualification for the Company Programme, which is recognised by UCAS for university entry. Many sixth formers take the experience of the Company Programme further by setting up their own businesses outside school, while for others, the skills for teamworking, communication and making ideas a reality provide them with a competitive advantage in the jobs market.

Born and brought up in Stornoway within the setting of the family business, Charles Macleod butchers, Claire established her own HR and business consultancy, Orbit Agency, in 2009. Last year, she and her business partner Diane Murray launched their new digital business Shine specifically to support businesses nationally in the hair and beauty sector.

Turning that experience to support young people still at school to develop their enterprising skills, she said: “The Western Isles is a very enterprising region. We’re not short on ideas or inspiration living where we do. With Young Enterprise Scotland I hope to be able to work with more and more young people and help them achieve their full potential.

“The YES Company Programme offers 5th and 6th form students a means to experience what it means to take an idea and make it successful and what it takes to run a business. I believe it can be the inspiration for many young people to create their own futures, especially in these challenging times.”

Jamie is the driving force behind multiple businesses on the Isle of Harris, including Loomshed Hebridean Brewery, Norserv Facilities Management and award-winning candle and home fragrance company Essence of Harris. With expertise in a diverse range of sectors Jamie is passionate about creating long-term, high quality jobs on Harris.  He said: “If more young people could take that leap of faith and believe in themselves to start up their own businesses, then we could really rejuvenate the islands for future generations to come.”

Young Enterprise Scotland has been inspiring and equipping young people to learn, develop and reach their full potential through enterprise since 1992.  Every year the charity supports around 16,000 young people, from all backgrounds, develop their business knowledge, entrepreneurial skills and ultimately become more employable.    The dedicated and passionate team of staff are supported by over 600 volunteers from the business community to help them to realise their vision for Scotland to be a place where all young people should be given the opportunity to have a rewarding future in work and life - no matter where they start their journey.