British Business Bank expands Start Up Loans programme

Providing vital support to start ups during a challenging economic period, the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has been expanded. It now includes start-ups that have been trading for up to three years and second Start Up Loans are now available to eligible businesses that have been trading for up to five years. The programme previously provided finance to start-ups which had been trading for up to two years.

Start Up Loans’ expansion follows the 2021/22 Spending Review, at which the government made the commitment to provide 33,000 loans to the programme over the next three years. The scheme has already delivered more than 97,000 loans worth £900m to new business owners across the UK since 2012.

Start Up Loans provides funding at a fixed interest rate of 6%, as well as 12 months’ mentoring to its recipients, further supporting aspiring business owners in every corner of the United Kingdom. Start Up Loans’ impact has been particularly noticeable among individuals who might find it difficult to secure loans from traditional lenders.

Case study:  Victoria Orr, founder of Amandla Ubuntu from Hexham Northumberland

One such business owner to have taken out a second loan with the programme is Victoria Orr, founder of Amandla Ubuntu from Hexham Northumberland. Her business is a social enterprise selling South African arts & crafts that provide sustainable incomes to artists and crafters in their communities.

Having previously held a position as a senior executive in an education charity, and a handful of global leadership positions at large corporates such as Amazon and Marriott, Victoria realised she needed to do something more fulfilling. She took out her first loan with Start Up Loans in June 2021 for £5,000, alongside £7,000 of her own savings. She then took out a second loan of £6,000.

She said: “As a passionate feminist and proud South African, I wanted to launch something that really made a difference to women. Each purchase made also supports survivors of gender-based violence at the Saartjie Baartman Centre in Cape Town.

“The initial loan funds were invaluable in helping me get up and running – I used them to build up my website, purchase initial stock, trial various advertising and marketing options, and a stand for a trade show to showcase the products. The level of support I received when applying for my second loan was fantastic and is something I didn’t feel I’d get from other lenders. I used it pay for additional exhibition display stands, a photography light studio and new stock, which made a huge difference to my sales in the run up to busy retail moments.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said:“We are delighted to be able to extend the reach of the Start Up Loans programme to help support businesses, including those who need extra support during a challenging economic environment. This extension of the programme will enable us to work with those businesses that had perhaps just got going when the pandemic hit, or are ready to consolidate and grow their businesses now that they are back on their feet. We want to ensure that these businesses do not get left behind.

“We have always been committed to providing support and funding to smaller businesses that hail from every corner of the country, with entrepreneurial ambitions across all industry sectors. Having delivered more than £900m in loans highlights our continued efforts to help people from a diverse array of backgrounds achieve their business goals.”

Business Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg said: “This government is relentlessly focused on driving growth to create better jobs, boost wages and fund our vital public services like the NHS. Encouraging entrepreneurship and new businesses to thrive is critical to growing the economy and raising living standards. From a hair salon in Wales, to a furniture business in Northern Ireland and a cake seller in the Lake District, expanding the Start Up Loans Scheme will support these small businesses through this challenging period and position them to grow – creating jobs and opportunities across the UK.”


Breakdown of loans by region