Entrepreneurs over 50 benefit from Start-Up loan scheme

Start Up Loans has announced that it has delivered more than £140m of loans to UK entrepreneurs aged over 50 since its launch in 2012.

The programme has supported 13,422 loans, at an average of £10,427 per loan.

Of these loans, more than £14.78m have gone to business owners over the age of 50 in the South West.

So far, 1,474 loans have been issued to businesses, with an average loan amount of £10,028.

The South West had the second highest number of loans by value outside London and the South East, with Devon, Somerset and Cornwall weighing in as the top three counties for 50+ entrepreneurship in the region, by number of loans.

Start Up Loans has delivered more than £13m worth of loans nationally to the over 50s in the financial year running 1 April 2023 – 31 March 2024. This represents a significant contribution to national efforts to encourage people aged 50+ back into work through a variety of initiatives designed to help stimulate economic growth.

Nationally, almost half (£64m) has been delivered since the first Covid-19 lockdown, with 4,664 issued since April 2020 with a value of £63,928,454, reflecting an average loan of £13,707 per business.

That is an average increase of more than £2,600 compared to the four year period before Covid-19, reflecting the difficult operating conditions businesses have been facing.

In the South West, over £7m has been delivered since the first Covid-19 lockdown, providing a total of 532 loans. In this period, the average loan value per business was £13,246 – an increase of more than £3,000 compared to the four-year period before Covid-19.



County breakdown of loans to over 50s in the South West

Loans to over 50-year-olds
South West Region Loans Made Value (£)
City of Bristol 91 671,250
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 223 2,598,790
Devon 323 3,420,140
Dorset 211 2,262,084
Gloucestershire 206 1,867,082
Somerset 251 2,076,934
Wiltshire 169 1,885,599
Grand Total 1,474 14,781,879


One 50+ South West entrepreneur is 62-year-old Jilly Russell who opened her own ceramics studio last year with the support of a £15,000 Start Up Loan. After three decades spent teaching, she decided the time was right to start her own business in Moretonhampstead on Dartmoor in Devon.

Jilly said: “I would say to anyone, absolutely go for it. If you don’t do it now, then when? We only have one life. The help is out there to get you started.”

Another entrepreneur is 51-year-old fishmonger Simon Baker, who left his management job to pursue a childhood passion and retrained as a fishmonger, launching his Lyme Bay Seafood business in East Devon in 2021. Simon recently applied for a £15,000 Start Up Loan via business support partner SWIG Finance.

“I would encourage other people at my stage in life who are thinking about starting a business to at least look into it,” said Simon. “It’s daunting at first, starting out on your own and thinking about things like loans but applying for a Start Up Loan was relatively straightforward.”

Steve Conibear, UK Network Director South West at the British Business Bank said: “As Jilly and Simon demonstrate, you can further your business ambitions at any age. It’s why we encourage anyone with a good business idea to get in touch and learn more about how the Start Up Loans programme might be able to help turn it into reality. It is interesting to note the high proportion of the funding during and after the pandemic, suggesting that many people of 50+ re-evaluated and took action to pursue their business ambitions.”

The Start Up Loans programme helps people start or grow their business and is part of the government-owned British Business Bank’s remit to make finance markets work better for smaller businesses. 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.


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