£68m of lending benefits region’s start-ups

Small Business Minister Paul Scully
X The Business Desk

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The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has passed the major milestone of £600m worth of loans delivered outside of London in under a decade.

Since its launch in 2012, the Bank has provided over £68m of funding to entrepreneurs in Yorkshire & The Humber, through 7,497 loans, with the region receiving the third highest number of loans outside of London – behind the North West (10,881 loans) and South East (8,378 loans)

The programme which provides mentoring, support and funding to aspiring business owners across the country with 39 per cent of loans in the region going to female owned businesses.

One of the companies supported by the Start Up Loans programme was Love & Love. Founded by Manuela Montenegro Moreira Baraad and based in Leeds, the company manufactures and sells unique, high-quality, vegan handbags. Its products are aimed at females looking for style, sustainability and empowerment when shopping for cruelty-free fashion and in January 2020 it received a loan of £15,000.

Baraad said: “Having only just launched at the beginning of 2020, we had a tricky start. It took us some time to get on our feet, having to close two stores in Amsterdam and Barcelona, but the loan enabled us to focus on our Leeds store and increase our online presence, which has led to an increase in international orders. The team has been incredibly helpful, and we are looking forward to continuing to grow and becoming a market leader in high-quality, vegan and sustainable handbags.

“Having the support from Start Up Loans, as a government-backed programme, gave me the confidence to believe in myself and fully make the move to building a brand with values that I believe in. I hadn’t come from a fashion background, so whilst the low interest loans offered by Start Up Loans were brilliant, having access to experts in the field was crucial in helping me build the brand.”

Sophie Dale Black, UK network director, North of England, said: “Providing £600 million worth of funding to new businesses outside of London is a huge milestone for the government backed Start Up Loans programme and the strength of Yorkshire & The Humber reflects the broad diversity and ambition of the region’s small businesses at a grass roots level.

‘We have always been committed to providing support and funding to small businesses that hail from each corner of the country, particularly in areas of deprivation where people may struggle to access funding, and this milestone is tribute to that.

“We are proud that our loans, mentoring and support for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs is helping to support the Build Back Better agenda and we’re delighted to have been able to help Manuela make her dream into a reality.”

Small Business Minister Paul Scully added: “There is so much creativity and dynamism across the UK, but without access to funding and support it’s difficult to fully unlock the entrepreneurial spirit that makes this country great.

“The Start Up Loans programme has helped a diverse range of entrepreneurs across the UK to get their business ideas off the ground, levelling up the entire country and enabling talented business leaders from all backgrounds to flourish.”