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Ageless ambition: Post-pandemic surge in 50+ entrepreneurship brings up £140m Start Up Loans milestone

  • 13% of all Start Up Loans have gone to business owners aged 50 or above, providing over £140m of finance
  • Almost half (£64m) has been delivered since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • 54-year-old Eduardo Barreto, founder of Boy Next Door Productions, is using a £10,000 Start Up Loan to develop his theatre business, including staging a production of Tennessee Williams’ Rose Tattoo at The Arcola Theatre
  • On top of the finance, business owners who receive a Start Up Loan also benefit from free mentoring and support

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, today announces that it has delivered more than £140m worth of loans to entrepreneurs aged 50+ since its inception in 2012. The programme has supported 13,422 such loans, at an average of £10,427.

Almost half the funding (£64m) has been delivered since the first Covid-19 lockdown. A total of 4,664 loans have been issued since April 2020 equating to £63,928,454 in value. In this period, the average loan value per business is £13,707 – an increase of more than £2,600 compared to the four-year period before Covid-19.

Start Up Loans has delivered more than £13m worth of loans to the over 50s in the financial year running 1 April 2023 – 31 March 2024. This represents a significant contribution to the national efforts to encourage people aged 50+ back into work through a variety of initiatives designed to help stimulate economic growth.

Much of the financing to help start-up businesses went to businesses outside of London, with 85% of the value of the loans deployed outside the capital. Nearly three quarters (72%) went to businesses outside of London and the South East.

The North West was the region to receive the most finance outside of London and the South East, accounting for £16m of funding.

Loans to over 50-year-olds

UK RegionLoans MadeValue (£)
East Midlands6997,887,777
East of England1,08211,229,793
North East6997,698,151
North West1,54916,198,392
Northern Ireland1681,607,603
South East1,61717,760,821
South West1,47414,781,879
West Midlands99311,232,294
Yorkshire and The Humber1,28614,106,661
Region not obtained58683,900
Grand Total13,442140,157,566

Eduardo Barreto is one of the business owners over 50 who sought finance to develop his business. He received a £10,000 Start Up Loan in October 2023, using it to help produce a run of shows at The Arcola Theatre for his Bermondsey-based production company, Boy Next Door.

Eduardo Barreto, founder of Boy Next Door Productions, said:

“I founded the company four years ago, but it had a slow start due to a health incident. Now that I’m well again, the funding has enabled me to get back to doing what I love most – producing successful shows. It wasn’t only the loan that was important to me, however – Start Up Loans introduced me to Giuseppe, my business mentor and my rock. I wouldn’t have succeeded in my application without him, so I am eternally grateful.

“To anyone else of a similar age thinking about starting their own business, my advice would be to find something you are passionate about and go for it. Keep your left foot in dream world and your right foot in the real world and you’ll find the balance needed to succeed.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Small Business Lending, British Business Bank said:

“As Eduardo demonstrates, you can further your business ambitions at any age. It’s why we encourage anyone with a good business idea to get in touch and learn more about how the Start Up Loans programme might be able to help turn it into reality. It is interesting to note the high proportion of the funding during and after the pandemic, suggesting that many people aged 50+ re-evaluated and took action to pursue their business ambitions.”

The Start Up Loans programme helps people start or grow their business and is part of the government-owned British Business Bank’s remit to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. They can borrow up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum and repay the loan over one to five years. The programme also provides 12 months of free business mentoring.”


Further information

Andy Ross

Communications Manager, Start Up Loans

m: +44 (0)7741 686 645

The British Business Bank team

MHP Communications

+44 20 3128 8589

Notes to editors

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 ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have 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, helping the sector to prosper, to grow and to build economic activity.

Key Statistics

  • Since its inception in 2012, the Start Up Loans scheme has delivered over 105,000 loans, providing more than £1bn of funding.
  • In the financial year 2022/23, the scheme provided 9,549 loans with a total value of approximately £120m.
  • The economic benefits of the Start Up Loans programme are almost six (5.7) times its economic costs.
  • 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).