THE next generation of aspiring entrepreneurs are being supported with £150,000 worth of grants from Glasgow Caledonian University and two major players in the UK retail sector.

The Retail Trust, the charity supporting people working in and retired from the UK retail sector, and Hammerson, the owner, manager and developer of urban real estate, are working with GCU on the scheme.

With November 19 marking Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, nearly all of the start-ups benefitting from the support are female-owned and share a commitment to contribute to sustainable and social impact.

One of the successful applicants is GCU graduate Georgia Barr, whose business, Offcut Clothing, creates quality business wear for women made from remnant fabrics destined for landfill.

She said: “Without the funding I would not be able to pursue my dream of launching a zero-waste fashion brand that gives back to the local community.

"My aim is to build a circular model for customers to return used garments in order to give to those unable to afford business and interview clothing.”

Georgia will use the funding to rent studio space.

Graduate Sarwat Murtaza will put her award towards the marketing and promotion of business Ethimaart – an online curated gift shop selling products from ethical brands and women-owned businesses.

Glasgow Times: Georgia Barr

Ethimaart works with individuals, artists and small brands, who are working hard to preserve the rare skills of handmade products inspired by traditional and sustainable craftsmanship.

Sarwat said: “I’m very grateful for the support, it means a lot that those in the retail sector believe in my company and what it stands for.

"This funding will make a big difference in terms of marketing and further promote the message of sustainability that comes from the products we sell.”

Jillian Watt, Director of the GCU Foundation, said: “We are extremely grateful to the Retail Trust and Hammerson for their continued support of students at GCU.

"Their scholarships have helped to ensure finance is not a barrier for students pursuing higher education and, at a time when the spotlight is firmly on businesses to become more sustainable and socially accountable, the partnership has provided valuable funding to five aspiring entrepreneurs who are truly embracing the University’s mission – for the Common Good.”

Amy Prendergast, Transformation and Operations Director, Retail Trust added that the pandemic had created a difficult financial climate for the retail sector.

She said: "We know that many people working in retail have faced financial difficulties exacerbated by the pandemic, and so it is important for us to ensure that the future talent of our sector can not only continue their studies but continue to develop innovative and thriving retail businesses."

James Rogers, Community Manager at Hammerson, said: “We are delighted to be working with Retail Trust and GCU to provide a step up to a number of entrepreneurial students and graduates who are starting out in the retail industry, and look forward to seeing their businesses flourish.”