A farmer, an illustrator, a TV producer, and a musician are among the twelve selected for Menter a Busnes’s SBARC Ceredigion training programme.

The brand-new venture, funded by the UK Government, driven by Levelling Up, and managed by the leading economic development company Menter a Busnes offers 12 individuals a host of learning experiences, including seminars, workshops, and mentoring opportunities.

“When I saw SBARC Ceredigion, I thought it was a good opportunity to hear from business owners who have succeeded, and leaders in different fields,“ SBARC Ceredigion recruit Steff Rees, musician, and Team Leader at Menter Iaith Ceredigion said.

Joining him are Sophia Morgan-Swinhoe, co-owner of Dyfi Dairy, and Teaching Assistant and sports enthusiast, Jac Ifan Davies.

Having started out with just six acres of land and two goats, Sophia’s farm is now home to 60 goats and 13 cows, and she hopes that SBARC Ceredigion will help her grow her business and audience.

Jac’s business idea is already underway; an interactive app to support children and adults who are learning Welsh through stories.

“When I saw the SBARC programme, I was determined to go for it – it’s a fantastic opportunity," he said.

The successful applicants, who vary in age, background, and experience, will all spend two residential weekends in Ceredigion together, and three days in Reykjavik, Iceland hearing from industry professionals.

The programme will also offer participants the opportunity to gain a post-graduate level 7 Leading Change certificate from Aberystwyth University.

The opportunity for personal development appealed to County Clare-born Rebekah Stuart.

“The leadership course appealed to me; it’s a good opportunity for personal development and will stand me in good stead whatever the future may bring,” she said.

Working on the Arwain DGC project, and helping on her partner’s family farm, Rebekah is also hoping for ideas on diversification.

“I’ve always been interested in setting up a business, and we’d like to diversify the farm, whether that be glamping pods or something else," she added.

Llanon illustrator Ren Skalka, saw the programme as an opportunity to learn how to go about setting up a new community space.

“I really want to start my own queer space in Aberystwyth,” Ren said.

“Somewhere that’s between a café and a retail space, with a community aspect too. A place that can provide support for the LGBTQIA+ community in Aberystwyth.”

Giving back to the community is what spurred Llinos Hallgarth to apply too.

“A group of us are in the process of buying Capel Bethel here in Capel Dewi,” Llinos, who also runs a local business with her sister, said.

“Whatever happens with the Chapel it will have to be a self-sustaining business.

"It’s so important to me that the community thrives.”

Both Alaw Rees and Siwan Mair Hughes have recently returned home to Ceredigion after a stint of travelling, and have their hearts set on running their own business in their square mile.

“Right now, I just want to develop my professional skills, meet new people, network and find inspiration too,” Alaw from Llanarth said.

Siwan Mair Hughes, who currently manages the Marketing and Communications at Bargoed Farm near Aberaeron is also keen to learn.

"I like the idea of setting up my own business in the future, possibly doing marketing, promotion and content creation for local businesses," she said.

It’s the prospect of generating work for himself and others in his field that inspired TV and documentary-shooting producer Rhys Jones to apply for SBARC Ceredigion.

“We all know that running a business is difficult, so I’m looking forward to hearing from company owners about how they’ve coped when things have been hard,” the father of two from Aberystwyth said.

“I’m hoping for advice on leadership, resilience and agility, things that are key in our industry as things are constantly changing.”

SBARC Ceredigion recruit and textiles designer Sara Lleucu Griffith from Llangwyryfon is rapidly making a name for herself with her needlepunch fabric designs.

“Each piece is unique,” Sara, who works at Aberystwyth University four days a week, said.

“My work is inspired by the Welsh countryside, the colours and the patterns.”

The prospect of doing what she loves full time is also what drives Cardigan make-up designer, Carys Jukes. Since returning home at the start of the pandemic, Carys has been working full time in a different field of work, making time for her make up career on weekends and evenings, but she would love to open her own place eventually, offering a variety of beauty treatments.

“The dream is to work for myself,” the Bristol University graduate said.

“To work full time doing what I love the most.”

The face behind the ‘Twtio’ Instagram account, Siwan Richards is ready to take her business to the next level too and hopes SBARC Ceredigion can show her the way.

“The aim is to develop the business to offer a service where I go into people’s homes to help, perhaps to organise one area of the house, the whole house, or perhaps someone has moved house or have lost a relative and need some help to sort out the house," she said.

Rural and Development Director at Menter a Busnes, Eirwen Williams said there are "high hopes" for the 12 first recruits.

“We’ve got a great group of people taking part in the first phase of SBARC Ceredigion," Eirwen said.

"They’re from all walks of life and are all eager to learn, not only from the business leaders they’re meeting, but also from each other.

"We can’t wait to see what they go on to achieve.”

Another cohort of 12 recruits will be selected for the second round of SBARC Ceredigion in 2024.