LISTEN: Jackie Brierton explains how REDS works. Watch the full interview in this month’s IRIS Magazine.
Lead by GrowBiz, REDS stands for Rural Enterprise Directory Scotland and it aims to connect local shoppers with rural businesses.
REDS do this by creating a directory that categories businesses by colour on a map, establishing a network of local spending through a single gift card, offering free support and grant funding through the scheme.
Jackie Brierton, CEO of GrowBiz, said: “So REDS came out of really the pandemic crisis, so last March April we were inundated as you can imagine. And every night I was thinking, ‘oh my goodness, we’ve got such an enormous challenge here.’
“And one of the things that I think always occurred to me was the difficulties when you’re a small rural business and getting your message out and promoting yourself and just getting people to know where you are.
“One of the good things that’s come out of the crisis is buying local, people are supporting their local’s shops and local businesses, and hopefully that will continue.
“So, originally, I thought, well probably a directory [would help] and it should be business across rural Scotland, and that would allow people to then target where they’re shopping.
“It would also encourage the businesses, themselves, to collaborate with other businesses in other rural areas, but it would also encourage them to think about their own digital footprint if you like.”
Their directory breaks down Scotland’s rural economy into categories and sub-categories to help refine the list of services offered by business owners in the community.
Then their map helps indicate just how nearby these businesses are on an interactive page on the REDS website.
But this is only one of the ways the project is connecting local traders, they also offer a gift card that can be charged up and used in one business and then another.
Jackie Brierton explained: “[We started] a gift card that anybody can buy and then use to support rural businesses.
“So, we did a deal with Miconex and got the REDS scheme just back in November.
“And we’ve actually sold quite a few before Christmas and we’ve had a few people joining REDS because somebody’s been landed a REDS card this Christmas.
“So, we’re hoping to build on that now and expand that. It’s really just that supporting the smaller businesses again, it’s very targeted at micro businesses.”
Businesses can sign up and join REDS, which works using Mastercard technology then every swipe costs the same as any normal card transaction.
One customer who spends £30 out of the £50 loaded into the card would then still have the £20 remaining to spend in an unrelated business elsewhere across Scotland’s rural economy.
Those businesses then pay £10 a month towards REDS which goes into the REDS fund and will then be used in helping support other businesses.
Jackie Brierton added: “We’ve just given our first grant actually, which is really nice, to somebody who needed to fit out a shed and used a local electrician to do that.
“So, the grant helped the electrician, helped her. So, that’s the idea of building the REDS fund.”
GrowBiz, who run the REDS project also offer free advice to local enterprises and help connect specialised problems with specialists.
This advice runs from a number of different issues businesses face, such as help with loan and grant applications.
More about REDS can be found on: https://www.reds.scot/