New social enterprise initiative Merkinch Development Ventures (MDV) has launched its first trading venture to create employment and training opportunities for disadvantaged adults in Inverness.
The aptly titled 'Ness Soaps' is a social enterprise situated in Inverness that produces a range of natural hand made soaps for both the retail and wholesale market. It is also looking to expand its product range by stocking toiletry items manufactured by the Shetland Soap Company -a trading subsidiary of COPE Ltd -that offers employment opportunities to adults with disabilities and manufactures a wide variety of soaps and lotions.
The business, which has now employed its first staff member, has been partly funded by a £30,000 grant from Futurebuilders Scotland - a funding programme managed by Communities Scotland, the Scottish Executive's housing and regeneration agency. MDV also received funding totalling £15,000 from the Inverness City Partnership and Inverness and Nairn Enterprise.
Speaking on Ness Soaps, Communities Scotland area director for the Highlands and Islands, David Nicol, said: "Our support for Merkinch Development Ventures will allow the group to develop its soap-making business and help it to become financially sustainable in the long term.
This enterprising venture will provide supported employment for people with disabilities and for people that have been out of work for some time. We wish it every success."
MDV, which operates within the social inclusion area of Merkinch, Inverness was set up to allow local people to take on the shared responsibility of creating employment opportunities, and developing their local community.
It is committed to growth, growth of the individuals who work with the initiative, and growth of its commercial trading activities. Its central focus will be to assist those who may find it difficult to access mainstream employment.
Ness Soaps is just the first of many enterprises that MDV hopes to establish. It has ambitious plans to create 30 employment opportunities in area over the next three year by establishing social enterprises, It also wants to offer training opportunities to its local community.
For its next venture, MDV has plans to develop a coffee producing business and it's all aiming to develop online shopping facilities for Ness Soaps to enable it to sell its wares across the world,
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