Start up Loans Ambassadors 2021/2022

The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its sixth consecutive year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have followed the ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the Government-backed Start Up Loans programme. To date the programme has delivered over 87,000 loans providing more than £779m of funding.

The 2021/2022 Ambassadors feature a social enterprise creating unique furniture from whisky barrels in Scotland, a Nottingham van-based phone repair service and a new alternative dairy company that uses camel milk! This year’s ambassadors are from a range of backgrounds and show that despite living in challenging times innovation and entrepreneurship are strong in the UK.

This years ambassadors:

Rory MacDonald – The Whisky Chairmen

Inverclyde, Scotland

Proud Inverclyde local, Rory MacDonald, received a Start Up Loan of £13,000 through British Business Bank delivery partner Transmit in August 2018. This provided the essential tooling, materials, rent and insurances for Rory to open The Whisky Chairmen. The Whisky Chairmen is a social enterprise making bespoke furniture from obsolete whisky barrels.

Learn more about the Whiskey Chairmen

Portrait of Rory Macdonald, The Whiskey Chairmen
Portrait of Aoife Doherty , Floris

Aoife Doherty – Floris

Cardiff, Wales

After noticing a gap in the market for eco-friendly stationery, she decided to take out a Start Up Loan of £9,000 to launch Floris – her own zero waste stationery company based in Cardiff. She used the funding to help support the manufacturing of her products and design tools.

Learn more about Floris

Will Smith – Woodwork by Will

Comber, Northern Ireland

The Comber-based entrepreneur set up his business, Woodwork by Will, in January 2020 to follow an ambition of making his bespoke creations available for others to buy.

The support Will received from the British Business Bank has enabled Woodwork by Will to increase its capacity and take on larger projects earlier than expected.

Learn more about Woodwork by Will

Portrait of Will Smith, Woodwork by Will
Portrait of Jeremy May, NICE drinks

Jeremy May – NICE

London

Jeremy May secured funding through Virgin Start Ups in February 2020. He worked in the food and drink industry and came up with the idea for NICE after discovering an American brand of canned wine on Instagram. He wanted to make wine more approachable and fun, and less intimidating.

Learn more about Floris

Lamar Griffiths and Reece Walker – 21st Century Repairs

Nottingham, East Midlands

Lamar Griffiths and Reece Walker took out a Start Up Loan of £4,000 in November 2018 to launch 21st Century Repairs, a van-based phone repair service in Nottingham. They promise to repair your device from your location in their customised van in under 30 minutes or less.

Learn more about 21st Century Repairs

Lamar Griffiths and Reece - Walker 21st Century Repairs
Sophie Rearden – Tide Climbing Centre

Sophie Rearden – Tide Climbing Centre

Wadebridge, South West

Sophie Rearden visited, built, and worked in climbing facilities and centres all over the world and distilled her favourite parts from each to create the Tide Climbing Centre.

After Sophie and her partner Sam secured loans of £20,000 each through delivery partner SWIG, they put all they had into creating a space that Cornwall would love.

Learn more about Tide Climbing Centre

Rahma Ahmed Ali and Nura Nur – Tribal Milk

Sheffield, Yorkshire and The Humber

Rahma Ahmed Ali and Nura Nur secured a loan of £10,000 in July 2021 through delivery partner Financing Sharia Enterprise to start alternative dairy brand Tribal Milk.

Tribal Milk drinks use camel milk, which is a staple product in Africa and has many health benefits including less lactose, higher protein and less saturated fat compared to cow’s milk.

Learn more about Tribal Milk

Rahma Ahmed Ali and Nura Nur – Tribal Milk
Martin and Corina Martin – Cod of Duty

Matthew and Corina Martin – Cod of Duty

Stafford, West Midlands

Having both worked in hospitality and been made redundant the previous month, Corina and Matthew decided to make their dream of owning a food business together a reality. After dedicating a lot of time to coming up with a name for the business, the name they landed on sprang to mind while playing video games!

Learn more about Cod of Duty

Kayleigh Cooper – POP Pressed

Manchester, North West

Kayleigh Cooper took out a £15,000 Start Up Loan in December 2020 to launch POP Pressed – an organic and plant-based cold-pressed juice brand.

Before launching her own business, Kayleigh split her time between teaching yoga and working in a local health food café. However, when the pandemic hit she was placed on furlough so couldn’t do either job.

Learn more about POP Pressed

Kayleigh Cooper - POP Pressed
Eleanor Howie – Valiant Lingerie

Eleanor Howie – Valiant Lingerie

Kings Lynn, East of England

Eleanor Howie took secured finance of £6,500 through Start Up Loans delivery partner Virgin Start Ups in Spring 2020. Her business Valiant Lingerie provides empowering lingerie for women who have been impacted by breast cancer or risk-reducing mastectomies.

Learn more about Cod of Duty

Caroline Potts – Ellison Gray Bridal

Durham, North East

Caroline Potts took out a Start Up Loan in May 2020 to realise her dream of opening a luxury bridal boutique. Ellison Gray Bridal was born after Caroline took the decision to leave her well-paid job in communications and engagement after becoming disillusioned with corporate life.

Learn more about POP Pressed

Caroline Potts – Ellison Gray Bridal