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Londonderry Chamber of Commerce announces collaboration with Voice For Locals

The Londonderry Chamber of Commerce has welcomed to the North West, Voice For Locals, an NI consortium  to support businesses who want to level up their services after the challenges of the pandemic.

The Voice For Locals Initiative offers state of the art technology tools, marketing techniques and customer experience training for small firms, and it is set to digitise businesses in the North West.

Awarded £1.82m by the UK Community Renewal Fund, the initiative offers micro and small businesses a range of free skills, marketing and other services to aid their business’ recovery.

Over 1400 businesses have enrolled to avail of the benefits, of which 250 businesses have innovated new processes in their business, and the goal is to certify 500 businesses over the coming weeks.

Following the success of transforming St George’s Market to trading online and sponsoring High Street Heroes NI – a campaign from Retail NI and supported by Voice for Locals – working relationships have been established with many local councils, business improvement districts (BIDS), enterprise agencies and chambers of commerce across Northern Ireland.

Welcoming the initiative Aidan O’Kane, President of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, said:

“We are delighted to welcome Voice For Locals as a member of the Londonderry Chamber. Voice For Locals aims to help micro and small businesses recover, rebuild and rebound post pandemic. Chamber Members represent the varied business sectors and interests in the area.

“There is a shared ambition to grow the standing of the North West as a great place to live, work and do business. However, our members are facing a perfect storm of challenges including energy hikes, labour shortages, National Insurance increases and Covid-19.

“Looking forward, I would encourage any small business to sign up to the Voice For Locals Initiative. It will allow business owners to increase their visibility and credibility, and boost profitability, to mitigate growing costs.”

Jay Thattai, Founder and Steering Authority at Voice For Locals, said:

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with Londonderry Chamber. There are so many synergies and collective efforts yield better results than individual efforts. The membership organisation is a priceless asset to the local business community, helping it navigate some of the hardest times ever faced. The Chamber’s objectives align perfectly with ours in that it wants to support members and help them rebuild and recover.

“We provide the digital tools for data driven business decisions and enable business owners to go digital with mobile apps, get marketed locally, get certified with e-learning courses endorsed by City & Guilds, and avail of personalised business and technology advice, to build a self-reliant economy in the wake of the pandemic.

“The levelling up initiative has been designed to address a number of challenges. At a local level, it allows engagement with a broader audience, on a more consistent basis, thanks to the Voice For Locals digital directory of all rated businesses across Northern Ireland, ni.voiceforlocals.co.uk. Meanwhile, with an expanded digital presence, local businesses can now tap into rest of the UK, Europe and world markets that would have otherwise been unattainable.”

Mr Thattai adds: “Each business will have a dedicated landing page with a business description, an enquiry button to generate leads, and pictures and videos featured in the Voice For Locals NI directory. Business owners will be given the tools to collect genuine customer ratings and reviews which will reflect online automatically, encouraging online shoppers to shop locally with confidence.

“This is a personalised small business success programme. A dedicated team is in place to provide mentoring until the business owners become self-reliant. It is completely free and fully funded by the UK Government. The consortium, which includes firms Unloc Limited and TieTa UK, hopes to support even more businesses in the North West as they navigate recovery post pandemic.”

The consortium’s tender win for the project makes it the recipient of the fifth largest grant in the UK and the largest in Northern Ireland. Unloc will provide the technology, marketing and skills development element of the offering while TieTa will offer business and technical support. The team is working closely with City & Guilds to gain recognition for e-learning programmes delivered to local businesses throughout the scheme’s duration.

This project is funded by the UK Government through the UK Community Renewal Fund. For further information log on to voiceforlocals.co.uk