Equestrian businesses in the South West are to receive a helping hand in developing.

A series of free evening workshops designed to develop equestrian business skills and move companies forward will start next month for businesses in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

The workshops, run as part of a new project called Business Forward, focus on how to create a business website, the health and safety issues surrounding farming businesses and agricultural employment issues.

“The workshops are very much demand-led,” Verity Biddick, specialist skills broker, told H&H. “The first 12 months of the programme have been very well attended and popular and so we have decided to roll out more.”

The latest series of workshops, available until December 2010, consists of five stand-alone workshops spread over two months, held in different locations across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Business Forward, which first became available in January 2009, also offers funding for business management qualifications and provides businesses with a mentor to offer support and advice

“We’ve provided information to farmers on capital grant funding for farm investment projects and supported those working to develop their marketing and business management skills,” said Verity Biddick, specialist skills broker.

“We are now hoping to help even more businesses and to sustain diversified aspects of Cornish farm businesses.”

Mandy Tooley, a British Horse Society instructor, recently enrolled in the Business Forward programme.

“Having invested in establishing my equestrian unit, I want to make sure riders know about my business,” she explained. “The programme has helped me focus on marketing my business effectively and I now have a website set up.”

For more information, visit www.businessforward.org.uk