£7.5m to young South West entrepreneurs

A loan company has provided young South West entrepreneurs with £7.5m of funding.

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, has provided the cash to 1,008 business owners aged 18 to 24 in the region, since it launched in 2012.

Devon had the highest number of young entrepreneurs receiving a loan at 248, followed by Gloucestershire at 143 and Cornwall with 140.

Hannah Ballinger, 22, from Gloucestershire, used a £5,000 loan to found Dreams Come True Parties. She dresses up as one of seven well known princesses to bring a touch of magic and sparkle to children’s events across Gloucestershire and Herefordshire.

She said: “Without the money from the Start Up Loan I wouldn’t be where I am now. To think I’ve started my own business is incredible, really. Over the past few years, I’ve struggled with my mental health and looking back to see how far I’ve come has definitely boosted my confidence.

“It’s like bringing Disneyland to life every time you walk in the room and the kids see me for the first time. It’s amazing. I would encourage any young person out there with similar struggles to me to do what makes you happy – don’t let anything hold you back.”

Of those to receive a Start Up Loan across the whole of UK, the most popular industries to launch a business in include retail (£8.5m), hospitality (£5.8m) and arts and entertainment (£2.5m).

The Start Up Loans programme helps people start or grow their business. They can borrow up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum and repay the loan over one to five years. The programme also provides 12 months of free business mentoring.

Across the UK, 16.5% of loan recipients aged 18 to 24 were unemployed before they got their loan.

Steve Conibear, UK network director South West at the British Business Bank, said: “It’s amazing to see people in their late teens and early twenties with such ‘can-do’ attitudes and motivation to achieve success in working life.

“Our funding milestone is testament to the hard work of Start Up Loans and its business support partners, in giving people with a good business idea, no matter their age, the chance to access the funding needed to bring it to life. We’re determined to keep backing aspirational young people with money and mentoring.”

Kevin Hollinrake, small business minister, said: “Every large firm started off as a small business and today’s aspiring young entrepreneurs could be the next success story. I urge them to explore how a Start Up Loan could launch their ambitions today.

“Through the British Business Bank, and the Help to Grow campaign, we’ve backed the next generation of business leaders.”