Newport entrepreneurs came together to celebrate five successful years of the Start Up Business Grant.

Since 2013, 32 businesses have been supported creating 86 jobs, with total grants of £30,000, making a significant contribution to the local economy.

The grant is run jointly by Newport City Council and Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise, and offers seed-corn funding for new businesses setting up in the Newport area.

Mercer Insurance Brokers was set up by Darren Mercer three years ago with the help of a £500 grant. The firm now has an extensive client base in South Wales and the Bristol area, covering all small, medium enterprise commercial businesses as well as motor trade risks.

Darren is aiming to grow the business organically and is planning to increase staffing levels as the business expands.

He said: “The grant and other support I received when starting up was very helpful and gave the business a good start.”

NILC launched in Newport in 2014, also with a £500 grant from the scheme. From its headquarters in the city, the firm offers training in IT and project management to professional firms and individuals.

Run by Karim Dastgir, the firm employs four and has a bank of around 50 consultant trainers. Expansion is definitely on the agenda.

Karim said: “We are planning a new IT training suite and intend to keep growing over the next few years.”

Cook Healthy, run by Rachel Margetts, promotes nutritional and healthy eating through schools and community organisations all over South Wales. The firm received a £1,000 grant three years ago to help buy equipment, and has gone from strength to strength since.

Rachel is now planning to launch a You Tube channel offering recipes and cooking hints and tips, as well as an online blog.

She said: “The business has been a success because I am able to combine my evidence-based knowledge as a registered dietitian with my passion to create simple, healthy recipes that are easy to follow for busy families.”

The firm is planning to build a team and take on at least two staff in the near future.

Martin Palmer, of UK Steel Enterprise, said he was delighted at the success of the scheme in the last five years.

“The Start Up Business Grant has played an important role in helping fledgling businesses get off the ground.

“A significant number of jobs have been created, and these are undoubtedly having a ripple effect in the wider economy. We are grateful to Newport City Council for working with us to achieve this,” he said.

Cllr Jane Mudd, of Newport City Council, said: “I’m glad that, together with UK Steel Enterprise, we were able to give them a helping hand at the early stages of their ventures and to hear that these businesses are going from strength to strength.

“Such entrepreneurship contributes to the growth and vitality of our city, creating new employment and training opportunities. I would like to wish them continued success in the future and thank UK Steel Enterprise for its vital support.”