British Business Bank hands out £85m to businesses in South West

The British Business Bank has loaned almost £85m to start up businesses in the South West making it one of the top three regions outside London and the South East.

Since 2012, Start Up Loans has delivered more than £1bn of loans to more than 105,000 businesses across the UK

And  £371m of loans (nearly 40 per cent) have gone to female founders.

Asian and other Ethnic Minority backgrounds

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, has delivered more than £1bn of loans since its inception in 2012. The loans have been issued to 105,109 businesses, at an average of £9,547 per business.

Of those loans, the South West is in the top three regions outside London and the South East having received almost £85m in 9,057 loans across the region. The average loan amount in the South West is £9,381. The breakdown by area is as follows:

South West breakdown Loans Made Amount Lent (£) Average Loan Amount (£)
Bristol 943 6,960,403 7,381
Cornwall and Isles of Scilly 1,381 14,158,537 10,252
Devon 2,011 19,502,774 9,698
Dorset 1,235 12,175,696 9,859
Gloucestershire 1,222 11,555,445 9,456
Somerset 1,327 11,066,064 8,339
Wiltshire 938 9,543,843 10,175


The Start Up Loans programme provides a means of reaching under-represented groups who are excluded from mainstream finance by helping them start businesses.

Of the loans to make up £1bn, nearly 40 per cent have been lent to female business owners, with a total value of £371m, and 20 per cent have been lent to people from Black, Asian and Other Ethnic Minority backgrounds (not including White Minorities), with a value of £201m.

Just four per cent of the UK’s small businesses in 2021 were majority-led by people from an ethnic minority group and only 20% of new businesses had female founders according to The Rose Review.

One recent South West recipient of a Start Up Loan is Pets and Picasso, which received a £25,000 loan in June this year.

The community interest company, set up by Anna Corwood and her partner Luke Gash, aims to provide animal and art assisted therapy to local people living with a wide range of health conditions.

Anna, a district nurse, has spent years working in the community looking after her patients, many of whom have dementia or need end-of-life-care. She has seen first-hand how family pets and contact with animals can bring comfort and joy to people when they are at their lowest ebb.

She is using the Start Up Loan finance to help fund new enclosures and living spaces in her converted home for Pets and Picasso’s growing collection of animals including three cats, eight rabbits, seven guinea pigs, ten mice, four rats, a tortoise and even a corn snake.

The plan is to provide an outreach service to local residents, schools and care homes before eventually looking for premises to set up a dedicated Pets and Picasso centre in Plymouth, Devon.

Anna Corwood said she turned to the Start Up Loans programme because other lenders could not help her.

She added: “I looked around for a while but because I didn’t have any accounts in place, I was told that there was nothing anybody could do to help us. Then I remembered seeing something online about the British Business Bank, so we got in touch.

“The Start Up loan scheme is really valuable for people like us who want to turn their ideas into a reality. We’re really excited about Pets and Picasso. We’ve had so much positive feedback from people already and we’re just ready and waiting to move things forward.”

Steve Conibear, UK Network Director South West at the British Business Bank said: “We’re delighted that the Start Up Loans programme has supported so many business owners across the South West. It’s clear that the region has a thriving entrepreneurial culture based on how many loans we’ve made to start up businesses stretching from the Isles of Scilly to Bristol and beyond.

“The South West seems to punch above its weight in the national picture with more finance supporting businesses than in all of Scotland or Wales or the West Midlands. Each business owner supported with Start Up Loans finance and mentoring is someone who is pursuing their dream and that’s great to see.”