Small businesses and entrepreneurs across rural Scotland will be able to access free practical advice on growing their businesses online, thanks to a new Amazon Academy programme for rural SMEs.
The Amazon Academy, run in partnership with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International, is designed to equip Scottish SMEs with the skills they need to compete in a constantly growing digital economy.
Four events are planned for later this year in Aberdeen, Dumfries, Inverness and Selkirk - The first event is scheduled for Saturday 3rd October in Dumfries as part of Dumfries & Galloway Business Week.
Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity, Fergus Ewing said: “I welcome the establishment of the Amazon Academy in rural Scotland, which is aimed at helping to unlock the growth and export potential of rural SMEs and micro enterprises. Interest from the private sector and the use of digital expertise will be vital to growing the rural economy going forward and these initial academies will aid that aim. I look forward to working with Amazon and other partners to expand opportunities to all our rural businesses as part of our commitment to inclusive economic growth.”
The programme was announced following a report by Scotland’s Rural College and commissioned by Amazon, which found that unlocking the digital potential of rural areas in Scotland could add between £1.2bn and £2.5bn annually in Gross Value Added (GVA) to Scotland’s rural economy, and at least £1.44bn in rural business turnover.
“Every day, we see digital tools and services levelling the playing field between businesses operating in urban and rural parts of the country, whether that’s exporting locally produced goods or using cloud computing to scale their business,” said Doug Gurr, UK Country Manager, Amazon. “We know that Scotland has huge potential to grow its rural economy through digital, and hope that this programme will inspire more businesses in rural areas to embrace e-commerce.”
Over 10,000 rural businesses across the UK currently sell on Amazon to grow their business online. One successful rural small business-owner selling on Amazon is Karen Riddick, the owner of Second Nature, based in Dumfries. Second Nature now exports homeware products around Europe and generates roughly £350,000 annual turnover, with half of this coming from Amazon sales.
Karen said: “As someone who runs a successful rural based business, my message to other small businesses is that there are no geographical limits to e-commerce. For those who prefer rural living, I would say that it’s the perfect solution. Thanks to the internet and technology, you can have a high growth business without giving up your scenery, your community or your quality of life. There’s huge opportunity for our rural economy, and I look forward to encouraging other small business owners in taking their first step into the digital world.”
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