Start Up Loans Ambassadors 2023/2024

A business offering scuba-diving off the coast of Northern Ireland, a 3D printing business from Wales that exports internationally, a cat café and a Scottish tech firm with a long-distance ultrafast camera used in the space industry are among 12 businesses appointed as this year’s Ambassadors for our Start Up Loans programme.

The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its eighth year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have followed their ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from Start Up Loans.

Drawn from each of the UK’s 12 Nations and Regions, our Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s smaller business sector at a grass roots level. More details of the businesses selected from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England’s regions can be found further below.

The Start Up Loans programme was established as a £10 million pilot scheme by Lord Young in 2012, in the shadow of the financial crisis. His vision was to enable more young people to achieve their dream of setting up their own business, by offering affordable loans and expert advice to those who might otherwise struggle to access funding.

Since then, the programme has delivered more than 105,000 loans to business owners across the UK, amounting to more than £1bn of funding, while expanding to support entrepreneurs of all ages. 40% of loan recipients have been women and 20% people from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Start Up Loans Ambassadors 2023/2024

Meet this years ambassadors

Start Up Loans


Leo Winstanley founded Hand-i-Craft, based in Formby, after losing the ability to use his dominant hand and arm in a car accident. Now, it is a successful woodworking shop, stocking handmade items, finishes and accessories that are sold online.

Read the success story about Hand-i-Craft
Start Up Loans

Amity Brew Co

Amity Brew Co is a local craft brewery, offering a range of draught and canned beers. They provide tours of the brewery, an outside terrace, inside bar and weekly events for the community. They also have their own merch for sale. The three directors took out their loans in April 2020, at £25,000 each.

Read the success story about Amity Brew Co
Start Up Loans

The Sustainable Kitchen

Rik is a chef with more than 22 years of experience and a background in human nutrition and psychology. The business was started as a chance for him to explore why veganism isn’t as accessible as it could be and what the barriers are to preventing people from taking up the lifestyle

Read the success story about The Sustainable Kitchen
Start Up Loans


Best friends of 22 years Fabian Clark and Rohan Radhakrishnan co-founded the business in 2021 after seeing a gap in the existing all-or-nothing booze market. The low-alcohol, low-calorie gin product gives customers a great tasting alternative, without the possible side effects of the higher-alcohol options.

Read the success story about Quarter
Start Up Loans


Pallavi decided to follow her dreams of becoming a business owner in April 2021 after the Coronavirus pandemic forced her to re-evaluate her priorities. She left a career in finance and took out a loan of £19,000 in 2022 to curate and share natural homewares crafted by rural artisans from around the world, drawing inspiration from her mother’s unwavering passion for home decor and sustainability.

Read the success story about Anav
Start Up Loans

Finnegan's Whiskers

Shelley Smith, founder of Finnegan’s Whiskers, has opened Suffolk’s only cat café and feline foster home based in Sudbury. Shelley has partnered with local cat rescue centre, Mel’s Rescue, to home cats at the café and alleviate pressure on animal rescue centres. Visitors to the café will also have the option to adopt cats they interact with and participate in animal therapy sessions. These will be arranged at the café on an ongoing basis, along with events such as crafting and a book club.

Read the success story about Finnegan's Whiskers
Start Up Loans

Lunia 3D

The pair were helped initially by a £2,000 Start Up Loan to invest in their first commercial 3D printer. Three years on, with 40 more printers and a further £12,000 recently received from the British Business Bank, Lunia 3D has cemented itself as a key player on the flourishing 3D printing stage.

Read the success story about Lunia 3D
Start Up Loans


Physicists Charles Altuzarra and Yash D Shah, founders of Metahelios each received a £25,000 loan in July 2022 to kickstart their business. They are aiming to deploy the technology into space on a rocket from one of the UK’s spaceport sites, capturing data via a satellite that can be used to monitor climate change and orbiting space debris.

Read the success story about Metahelios
Start Up Loans

Eagle Divers

Zee with help of Start up Loans opened up a scuba diving center in Northern Ireland offering scuba diving and snorkelling courses we offer activities such as water biking, paddle boarding and kayaking.

Read the success story about Eagle Divers
Start Up Loans

Love of Lemons

Starting with an online business during the pandemic, Bex opened her first store in Nansledan near Newquay in 2021, selling hand-picked vintage items alongside sustainably produced new brands. She relocated to a brand new shop in Nansledan over the summer and has just opened a sister store, Love of Vintage, in the same complex.

Read the success story about Love of Lemons