Camel Milk and Bras…meet the UK’s new Start Up Loans Ambassadors
A Kings Lynn business creating bras for women who have had mastectomies, a Northern Irish bespoke furniture store, and a Sheffield-based camel milk drinks company are among 12 small businesses to be selected as champions of UK start-ups by Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank.
The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its sixth consecutive year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have followed the ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the government-backed Start Up Loans programme.
Through a network of Delivery Partner organisations, the Start Up Loans programme provides pre-and-post loan support to help applicants to develop a business plan; a fixed-interest loan of up to £25,000 to start or develop their business; as well as mentoring support to help loan recipients with everything from cash flow to marketing.
Originating from communities throughout the UK, the 2021 selection of Ambassadors reflects the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s SME sector at a grass roots level. A full summary of the businesses selected from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England’s regions can be found further below.
The 2021/22 Start Up Loans Ambassadors will be honoured today at a virtual event hosted by Start Up Loans and attended by Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business; Catherine Lewis Le Torre, CEO of British Business Bank; Lord Smith, chair of the British Business Bank, Richard Bearman, managing director, Start Up Loans and Delivery Partners for each of the UK’s 12 regions. They will also receive a keynote address from leading UK entrepreneur Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black’s Chocolate.
Since 2012, the programme has delivered more than 88,000 loans to business owners across the UK amounting to more than £790m. Of those who received a loan, 335,156 (40%) were women; more than 17,700 (20%) were people from Black, Asian, and other ethnic minority communities (excluding White minorities); and more than 4,542 (5%) were previously unemployed, reflecting the diversity of the UK start up community.
Paul Scully, Small Business Minister, said: “Start Up Loans are a vital pillar in our efforts to level up every part of the country and offer opportunities to hard-working, dynamic people regardless of their background.
“From canned wine to woodwork, bridalwear to camel milk, this year’s Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the incredible diversity and creativity of entrepreneurship across the UK and will spearhead our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”
Richard Bearman, managing director, Start Up Loans, said: “The small business community has witnessed another disrupted and challenging year, making it all the more important that we celebrate and showcase those business owners who have managed to excel to inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
“The breadth and diversity of this year’s Start Up Loans Ambassadors demonstrates that, with the right support and mentoring, aspiring business owners from all walks of life can thrive in the most challenging circumstances.
“I want to congratulate these carefully selected 2021 Ambassadors on the tenacity and determination they have shown over the past year, which has resulted in hugely impressive achievements. I look forward to working with them and sharing their stories to inspire others in their communities over the coming years.”
Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black’s, said: “When you’re starting a business, it really helps to have “champions” – in the forms of mentors and skill support – who can not only help keep your passion blazing, but bring their wisdom and financial insights to helping you power your business forward. It’s so great to see the British Business Bank formalise this in a positive way, via the team of 2021/2022 Ambassadors who can use the lessons from their success to empower and inspire the next round of great British start-ups.”
Breakdown of loans by region
|UK Region||Loans Made||Amount Lent (£)||Average Loan Amount (£)|
|East of England||6,170||56,259,023||9,118|
|Yorkshire and The Humber||7,576||69,784,367||9,211|
|Region not obtained||194||2,295,021||11,830|
Source: Start Up Loans, 30 September 2021