Business Adviser bows out after bumper year

The geographical spread of the businesses assisted ranged from Wick to Canna, and from Skye to Nairn. The ventures also ranged from a glass studio to a machinery manufacturer, and from a seafood supplier to an event management company.

Throughout the last 14 years, Iain has provided dedicated pre-application assistance and aftercare support to Highland businesses applying for a Highland Opportunity loan. During this period, he has helped over 600 businesses secure over £7.5 million of loan finance.

Iain has been succeeded by Robin Jackson, who has taken up the post of Highland Opportunity Investment Manager.

Highland Opportunity is the business support arm of The Highland Council. Councillor Dave Fallows, Chair of the Highland Opportunity Board – which also serves as the loan panel – said: “Highland Opportunity has operated affordable loan funds for Highland businesses for 28 years, and Iain has been working as a business and loans adviser for half of this time. He has provided invaluable support to hundreds of businesses, many of whom have expressed their heartfelt gratitude for his assistance on hearing of his retiral, which is testament to the value of the service and Iain’s work.

“Iain is leaving on a real high, with a fantastic amount of businesses assisted this year. We’re now looking forward to working with Robin, and assisting even more Highland businesses to get the support they need to achieve their start-up and growth ambitions.”

One of Iain’s earliest Highland Opportunity loan clients was Mountain Spirit Outdoor Limited in Aviemore. With Iain’s assistance, co-owners Rob and Angela Edmonds have secured three Highland Opportunity loans.

Rob Edmonds, Co-founder and co-owner of Mountain Spirit, said: “We secured a Highland Opportunity loan in 2002 which enabled us to lease the original store and establish Mountain Spirit as an independent outdoor store selling high quality brands. After successfully running the business out of this premises and paying off our loan, with Iain’s assistance we obtained further Highland Opportunity loans which have enabled us to expand into a larger store and secure our position as an independent local retailer. The business is going strong, and the help we have had from Highland Opportunity and Iain has been fantastic – very helpful and always willing to go the extra mile.”

One of the most recent businesses to benefit from Iain’s assistance is Rockhopper Sea Kayaking in Fort William. They secured a Highland Opportunity loan at the last loan panel this financial year to contribute towards the development of a new outdoor activity hub at Neptune’s Staircase.

Stuart Hood, Partner at Rockhopper Sea Kayaking, said: “Our Highland Opportunity loan will enable us take advantage of Scottish Canals’ offer for us to run a new activity hub encouraging increased use of the stretch of canal between Banavie and Gairlochy. The loan will help us stock, manage and run this new hub which will enable lots more people to enjoy the area by hiring kayaks, canoes, mountain bikes and more. Highland Opportunity and Iain have been great in helping us source the finance we needed.”

Highland Opportunity loans are available for commercial and social enterprise businesses through the Opportunity Fund and the Community Enterprise Loan Fund. Highland Opportunity loans are designed to be accessible and therefore have affordable interest rates (currently between 5% and 8%), flexible repayment terms, straightforward application requirements. The organisation also gives sympathetic consideration to businesses finding difficulty in accessing finance from other lenders.

Most business sectors are eligible to apply, and loans can be for a range of uses, such as: start-up or business acquisition, business expansion, upgrading premises, purchasing equipment, developing new products, or branching into new markets.

For more information about Highland Opportunity loans, contact Robin Jackson on 01463 228350 or at


26 Feb 2014
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