North East friends enjoy the sweet success
Two North East colleagues are enjoying the sweet taste of success after The eaga Trust helped them start their own business.
Steven Hayles, 34 and 37-year-old Michael Dobson, both from Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, faced a bleak future after being made redundant from their jobs with an energy company last year – until they heard that The eaga Trust, set up by their former employer was offering business funding for start ups.
Now, the friends, who met seven years ago when they both worked for energy efficiency company Eaga, are supplying American confectionery to sweet-toothed consumers across the world via their new business United Sweets of America Ltd.
Both Steven and Michael had worked for Eaga prior to its takeover by Carillion plc and, as former employees, were eligible to apply for a business loan from The eaga Trust to help them start their own business.
Steven said: “We both worked for Eaga, latterly Carillion, for six years, but we were made redundant within a few weeks of each other. As well as being colleagues we also flat share and we often used to talk about setting up our own business – but financing it was always an obstacle.
“Then we heard on the grapevine about The eaga Trust and decided to put a business plan together. In America you can get sweets and chocolate bars that you can’t get anywhere else – such as peanut butter flavoured Snickers and Twix bars – and, although you can buy them on-line, they are very expensive.
“However, with help from The eaga Trust we have been able to set up United Sweets of America offering the widest range at the lowest prices.”
Spread across the UK, almost 7500 men and women who worked for North East-based Eaga plc from January 1 2000 until April 21 2011 when it was sold to Carillion plc, can register their membership of The eaga Trust and apply for help - around half have so far come forward and now The eaga trust would like to hear from the rest.
Under the terms of the Trust a skill-builder fund was set up to enhance people’s training, skills and education with a view to improving their employment prospects - and it is this fund which has been set aside to provide the £1000 skill-builder account for every single registered Trust member.
In addition to the skill-builder fund The eaga Trust has also launched a business support programme where Trust members can not only apply for loans to start their own business but the Trust will also help find expert support, advice and may even help with some initial set up costs.
Steven added: “It’s early days for us, but already the response has been incredible. So many people holiday in America now and when they come home they are keen to recapture the excitement and fun of their trip with some of the unique sweets they tasted there. Besides which, the confectionery really does taste fantastic.”
Ashley Dean, Chief Executive Officer at The eaga Trust said: “This has been a real change of career for Steven and Michael and we are delighted to have helped them realise their dream – now we’d love to hear from other former employees who may need support in their business start up.”
Anyone who thinks they may be eligible for Trust membership and able to access £1000 available under the skill-builder fund as well as get help with starting their own business or use the other employment support initiatives should register their membership on The eaga Trust website - www.eagatrust.com.
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