Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, announces that the programme has delivered almost 7,000 loans worth over £64 million to businesses in the East of England. The figures point to the spirit of entrepreneurship in the region, with the average loan being £9,475. Essex has received the highest number of loans in the region to date, with 1,842 loans in total amounting to over £17m for entrepreneurs in the region, followed by Hertfordshire and Norfolk. The county in the East of England with the highest average loan amount was Cambridgeshire, with a median of £9,885.
The Start Up Loans programme was established in 2012 to reduce regional imbalances by supporting people across the UK to achieve their ambitions of starting their own businesses.
Two such business owners to receive funding from Start Up Loans are Alex Ward and Kishan Bharwad, founders of Bahé Design Ltd Colchester, Essex, the world’s first grounded running shoe. At the heart of their business is the desire to reconnect individuals with nature using a shoe design that allows people to have direct electronic connection to the earth, therefore creating a flow between body and ground. Bahé is the Hindi word for flow.
The two co-founders barely knew each other when they embarked on their entrepreneurship journey, but both project manager, Kishan and designer, Alex connected through their love of running and a passion for sustainability and nature. Kishan said: “If you go into a new industry, have a bit of patience. You will need time to get up to speed, so don’t get discouraged and persevere.”
Alex added: “Have a vision and good planning – and that includes financial forecasting. We knew where our strengths were and where we needed support. We used our £25,000 loan to finance the marketing and advertising for the business, so we were free to handle other things. It’s also important to give good briefs to the people you work with as well as good feedback. There’s so many day-to-day decisions to make that it’s important to surround yourself with people with different skillsets.”
Paul Sullivan, Senior Manager UK Network, East of England, British Business Bank, said: “A huge milestone for the government backed Start Up Loans programme has been reached in the East of England with over £60m delivered to nearly 7,000 start-ups and early-stage businesses. This a great reflection of the ambition of the region’s entrepreneurial talent. This milestone highlights our commitment to providing ongoing funding to smaller businesses, particularly in areas where there are real social and economic barriers preventing access to finance for those who need support.”