Cities in Balance


Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce (ECC) was successful in a bid to be Scottish representative in an Interreg project called Cities in Balance. The ECC project is leading on the Silver Economy work package, and through this has set up a programme promoting self-employment to the over 50s – The SELECT Programme (Senior Enterprise Learning – Edinburgh City Training). The programme runs a series of workshops from our Festival Square training suite. The workshops cover all aspects of self-employment including:

  • Is self-employment right for you?
  • Ideas generation
  • Starting in business for the first time
  • Starting your own consultancy
  • Tax, pension and benefit implications
  • E-marketing

Project Manager, Rebecca Pilch, says, “We are looking at improving mainstream opportunities for seniors. The programme is built on the premise that the more successful we are at encouraging mainstreaming of broader wellbeing issues for older people, the more the need to rely on health and social care services will be reduced.

A key activity of this project is to define and explore innovative strategies and how to deal with the topic of ageing in order to empower seniors to remain/become included in their community and working life. It’s not about patronising our most experienced contributors to the economy. It’s about enabling their aspirations. Even the brightest ideas sometimes need a little help to get them off the ground. With the right support, advice and encouragement, anything’s possible.

The Cities in Balance programme has a number of different work packages and we are working with a number of European partners including Hagen, Bruges, Genk, Kaiserslautern, Leeds, Leverkusen, Southampton, Stockport and Vlaardingen.

“The key message of this work package is that seniors are important and people can learn from the skills and expertise whilst the economy also benefits. Cities in Balance can help seniors to benefit from the products and services that are available through the programme. Assuming the pilot is successful, we will roll out the definitive programme over the next few years.”

Further details

Interreg is a Community initiative that aims to stimulate interregional cooperation in the European Union. It started in 1989, and is financed under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The current programme is Interreg IV, covering 2007-2013.

One of its main targets is to diminish the influence of national borders to attain equal economic, social and cultural development of the whole European Union.

The initiative is also designed to strengthen economic and social cohesion throughout the EU by fostering the balanced development through cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. Special emphasis has been placed on integrating remote regions and those with shared external borders with candidate countries.

Key Factors for Success

Our Silver Economy programme, enhancing the efforts of seniors who want to start their own business, was launched in September 2008 and has now passed its 50 mark with 51 attendees gracing our workshops. Even better, we have supported 42 businesses run by over fifties to start, with another 38 in the pipeline. Our image of an entrepreneur often owes more to stereotypes and ‘The Apprentice’ than reality. However, as we’ve discovered, you don’t have to be young, thrusting and male to run your own company. 70% of those attending our free Silver Economy workshops have been women, with our oldest aged 76. Also you don’t have to want a sprawling business empire. It could be just to supplement a pension, bridge those last years before retirement, or just indulge in a dream that many of us have but few realise – to make a passion or hobby into a career.

We believe our pioneering SELECT (Senior Enterprise Learning – Edinburgh City Training) programme will be a role model for the future.