Scotland’s first directory of rural and island businesses tops 350 members and marks 3rd anniversary

Andy Lambert

REDS (Rural Enterprise Directory Scotland), the first comprehensive directory of Scotland’s rural and island businesses, is marking its 3rd anniversary this month with over 350 members.

REDS was launched in 2020 by Perthshire-based rural enterprise support organisation GrowBiz, in response to the Covid-19 crisis, as a way of supporting and promoting the rural economy. REDS is the first online directory of its kind and has members covering the length and breadth of Scotland. It is designed to stimulate connection and collaboration between rural businesses that are spread far and wide across the country, providing a central reference point for customers, suppliers and visitors to find Scottish businesses by geography and sector.

Andy Lambert, REDS Project Lead, commented: “We set up REDS during the Covid-19 pandemic as a way of helping rural and island businesses to connect and collaborate. We now have over 350 businesses listed on the directory, covering Scotland from Shetland to the Borders, from the North Sea to the Atlantic Ocean. We have seen numerous businesses benefit from the connections they have made as members of REDS. Rural and island businesses face unique pressures and challenges, which makes the need for collaboration and shared expertise even more important.”

Members of REDS enjoy the benefits of an interactive marketing programme, including virtual winter markets, multiple buyers’ guides and a business services showcase. These additional layers of interaction are designed to add increased value to REDS and members are encouraged to get involved in as many activities as possible.

Nearly 25% of adults in rural Scotland are self-employed, more than twice the rate of urban areas. In terms of land area, urban areas account for 2.2% of Scotland and rural areas account for 97.8%. The largest employer in rural Scotland is small business. 68% of the workforce in remote rural and 54% in accessible rural Scotland work for small businesses, compared to 32% in the rest of Scotland.

Economic activity across Scotland’s non-urban areas accounts for approximately one third of Scotland’s overall economy annually. The rural economy is comprised of wide range of business types spanning every sector, from the arts to tourism, from care and wellbeing to climate literacy, from food and drink to construction, from energy to technology.

Richard and Sophia Yarrow, have described how being part of REDS allowed them to find the expertise they needed from a business on the island of Orkney.  The couple founded the Yarrow Cookery School in East Linton in October 2020. They collaborated with Sacha Woolham of The Strategy Collective in Orkney as they were looking for marketing support and expertise from a business which understood the challenges of the rural economy. The two businesses connected through REDS.

Sophia Yarrow commented:We are based in rural East Lothian and our business model is based on local ingredients and local connections. We joined REDS to support the rural economy and make connections with other similar businesses so it made sense to work with an agency listed on the directory if we could find one. Both ourselves and The Strategy Collective are connected through REDS and GrowBiz, so this really gave us extra confidence to move forwards as we have a shared ethos and approach. It has made such a difference to the growth of the business having a community of rural and island businesses whom we can connect with.”

Rural and island businesses can find out more about REDS by visiting

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