3,000 Military Entrepreneurs Empowered by £33.5m of British Business Bank Finance, Sparking Job Growth and Elevating the UK Economy

Press release 21 May 2024

Start Up Loans and X-Forces Enterprise have supported 3,000 businesses in the Armed Forces community with the recipient of the 3,000th loan a Thai restaurant owner in Warrington.

  • £33.5m of finance provided through Start Up Loans partner, X-Forces Enterprise
  • Around 10,000 jobs created

X-Forces Enterprise and the Start Up Loans programme, part of the British Business Bank, have together provided 3,000 entrepreneurs in the Armed Forces community with the funding and support to start a business.

Since 2013, this partnership has provided a total of £33.5 million in funding and support, catalysing fulfilling new careers for service leavers, veterans, reservists, and military spouses. The cumulative impact extends beyond individual success stories, with in excess of an estimated 10,000 jobs created and sustained.

The milestone follows last month’s announcement of Op PROSPER, a service from the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, to support veterans into work after they leave the Armed Forces, backed by £2.1m of new funding.

Over the 12 months ending March 2024, 415 loans were provided by X-Forces and Start Up Loans. 31% of these went to female-led businesses and 7% to ethnic minorities. The largest regions for the finance were the North West with 17%, South West (16%) and South East (12%). Overall, almost 95% went outside London.

Since the partnership started in 2013/14, 34% of loans have gone to female business owners and 10% of recipients were unemployed before setting up a business.

Entrepreneurs from the Armed Forces community excel due to their resilience, adaptability, and quick learning. Their core strengths and skills acquired from service enable them to navigate the challenges of business swiftly and effectively, and we are proud to facilitate Start Up Loans finance to bolster their endeavours and, indeed, generate jobs. Our own analysis suggests that the economic contribution of these 3,000 businesses is over three quarters of a billion pounds per annum. Ren Kapur MBE X-Forces Enterprise Founder and CEO

3,000th X-Forces Enterprise loan recipient, Phil Williams, Krapow Thai Restaurant, Warrington

Phil Williams spent nearly 17 years in the Army in the Royal Dragoons Guard regiment. He has returned to his hometown of Warrington to set up a Thai restaurant with his Thai partner, Chanisara which opened on 3rd May this year.

He applied for a Start Up Loan to help turn the Warrington town centre market stall he was running with his partner into a Thai restaurant in The Hive, Warrington, a busy area with high footfall. They spent five years looking for a restaurant site and have created employment eight people in the new business.

Phil is proud to be a veteran and at the market stall they ran offered a 10% discount for members of the Armed Forces.

He is ambitious for the business, looking to make £500,000 revenue in the first year and grow by 25% in both year two and year three of the venture.

I heard about Start Up Loans from the business owner next door. Getting the finance has helped us to buy the kitchen equipment, pay tradespeople and buy fixtures and fittings for the opening. The best thing about being a business owner is not having a boss, except the girlfriend. The military skills I lean on are perseverance, patience, listening and getting advice – if I don’t know something, I speak to someone who does. Teamwork has been vital in managing the restaurant refit. We had a lot of enquiries before we opened and have been booked up ever since we finished fitting out the restaurant. Now we’re looking to do even more as we want to have a barman doing Thai cocktails. Phil Williams Co-owner, Krapow Thai Restaurant
We’re delighted Start Up Loans has supported 3,000 veterans from the Armed Forces community to start businesses across the UK. X-Forces Enterprise is one of our most successful partners, whose supportive model helps us provide opportunities for Armed Forces members and their families to turn their business dreams into reality. We wish Phil and Chanisara all the best with their Thai restaurant and the exciting expansion it represents from starting as a market stall. Richard Bearman Managing Director, Small Business Lending, British Business Bank

Since its inception in 2013, X-Forces Enterprise has enabled the Armed Forces community to access government-funded Start Up Loans, serving as an official Business Support Partner for the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme.

Entrepreneurs receive dedicated support from a business advisor to develop their business plan and assess cash flow, along with ongoing mentoring guidance throughout the crucial first twelve months following their business launch. The business owner may also access a wide portfolio of training and networking opportunities, fully-funded through X-Forces Enterprise’ unique collaborations with military charities and big business.


Further Information

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Notes to editors

About X-Forces Enterprise

X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) is the UK’s leading provider of enterprise support for the Armed Forces community offering a unique package of services that includes training, start-up funding, mentoring and networking.

Veterans, service leavers, reservists, spouses, family members and cadets are all eligible for free-to-access services. Since the organisation was founded in 2013, XFE has helped over 10,000 people to consider, start and scale their businesses.

XFE is one of only two specialist Business Support Partners for the British Business Bank, alongside the Prince’s Trust.

XFE is the appointed Enterprise Trainer for the Ministry of Defence Career Transition Partnership and works with big business and military charities to deliver tailored enterprise training to help individuals make informed decisions and acquire the tools, knowledge and support they need to succeed.


About Start Up Loans

The Start Up Loans programme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.

The primary aim of the Start Up Loans programme is to help viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have better access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive. A network of Business Support Partner organisations supports applicants in all regions and industries throughout the UK. The Start Up Loans programme is not designed to generate a commercial profit. Capital payments together with the interest are recycled to help meet borrowers increasing demands for finance.

Free guides on a range of subjects related to starting a business and recent media press releases are available on the Start Up Loans website.

The funding for the Start Up Loans programme is provided by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). A development bank wholly government-owned by DBT, the British Business Bank plc is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, in the hope of helping the sector to prosper, to grow and to build economic activity.

Key Statistics

  1. Since its inception in 2012, the Start Up Loans programme has delivered over 105,000 loans, providing more than £1bn of funding.
  2. In the financial year 2022/23, the Start Up Loans programme provided 9,549 loans with a total value of approximately £120m.
  3. The economic benefits of the Start Up Loans programme are almost six (5.7) times its economic costs.
  4. At Spending Review 2021, the Chancellor announced resources to provide 33,000 Start Up Loans over next three years.

Aside from the return-on-investment numbers these statistics are gross estimates and based on Start Up Loans CRM along with externally commissioned research undertaken by SQW Ltd, with support from BMG Research.

Since 2012, 31% of loans went to people formerly unemployed or economically inactive. 40% of loan recipients were women and 20% were from ethnic minority groups (not including white minorities).
The Start-Up Loans Company is a wholly owned subsidiary of British Business Bank plc. It is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales, registration number 08117656, registered office at Steel City House, West Street, Sheffield, S1 2GQ. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. British Business Bank plc and its subsidiaries are not banking institutions and do not operate as such. They are not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A complete legal structure chart for the group can be found at www.british-business-bank.co.uk