Business model: Stramash

Stramash provides outdoor activities for children and adults in Oban in Argyll

Stramash began in 2003 with a three-year grant from the Big Lottery Fund, but when the money ran out it reinvented itself as a provider of adventure holidays.

"We always knew that the money was going to run out," says Niall Urquhart, chief executive of Stramash. "But when we got to the end of the lottery grant, we made the decision to begin a sustainable business rather than seek more grant funding.

"When it was announced that we would shut down, there were protests from local people because no one else was providing a service like this, so the council provided funding for a further two years while we transformed ourselves into a sustainable business."

Stramash was set up as a charitable company and now funds itself partly through grants for programmes to provide holidays for underprivileged children, and partly through charging businesses and individuals for activities such as walking, canoeing and climbing.

"At present, grants make up three-quarters of our funding, but we expect that to drop to about a quarter," says Urquhart.

He says the process has been a steep learning curve. "Only once you start do you realise the amount of work that's necessary," he said. "We had a very tight timescale, but in a way that helped to focus us.

"The largest challenge was replacing back-office support such as health and safety, HR and IT, which the council provided. We didn't really realise how much work it did until it stopped."

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