Beware of scams

We are aware of scams coming from email and social media where people try to impersonate us. We will never ask you for money or your bank details. Learn more about what to look out for and how to protect yourself.

British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans Programme Reveals Its 2023/24 Small Business Ambassadors

  • Start Up Loans recognises 12 small businesses from across the UK as leading and inspiring examples of UK start-ups supported by the programme
  • The programme has delivered more than £1bn of funding to over 105,000 businesses since 2012

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 announced today as Ambassadors of the Start Up Loans programme.

The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its eighth year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have launched an enterprise using funding from the government-backed scheme. Each Ambassador is selected for their ability to inspire others and embodies the can-do mindset it takes to make a start-up successful.

Drawn from each of the UK’s 12 Nations and Regions, the 2023/24 Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the broad diversity of sectors and business owners supported via the programme. More details of the businesses selected from each of England’s nine regions and three Devolved Nations can be found further below.

The 2023/24 Ambassadors will be introduced at a dedicated event in central London that kick-starts a year-long programme which will see the new Ambassadors take part in a series of local and national activities, helping inspire and encourage aspiring start-up founders to take the leap into business ownership.

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

“Start Up Loans is proud to support and nurture British entrepreneurial spirit and I’m inspired to see the breadth and diversity of this year’s Ambassadors. They represent the dedication and resilience that it takes to launch and grow a business in the current economic environment. Small businesses are a vital part of the UK economy, and when they thrive, we all do.

These Ambassadors are being celebrated soon after we’ve passed the huge and exciting milestone of having put £1 billion of finance into UK startups through the Start Up Loans programme. We hope these great business owners help us to reach new heights and support even more aspiring entrepreneurs.”

Since its inception in 2012, the Start Up Loan programme has delivered more than 105,000 loans to business owners across the UK, amounting to more than £1bn of funding. Of those loans, 40% of loan recipients have been women and 20% from Black, Asian, and Other Minority Ethnic backgrounds (not including White Minorities).

Regional breakdown of loans since 2012

Source: Start Up Loans, 31 July 2023 Through a network of business support partner organisations, the Start Up Loans programme provides access to pre-and-post loan support to help applicants to develop a business plan; fixed-interest first and second loans of up to £25,000 to start or grow their business; as well as mentoring support to help loan recipients with everything from cash flow to marketing.ENDSNotes to EditorsStart Up Loans Ambassadors 2023/24Zee Azab – Eagle Divers, Northern IrelandEagle Divers, founded by Zee Azeb, provides comprehensive diving courses led by highly trained PADI Instructors, equipping people with the skills and knowledge to dive both locally and internationally while promoting conservation of the underwater world.Instagram: @Eaglediversni / Twitter/X: @Eagle_Divers / Facebook: @EaglediversniCharles Altuzarra & Yash D Shah – Metahelios, ScotlandA Glasgow-based imaging tech start up developing first-of-its-kind long-distance cameras that could be sent to space to support a range of sectors. The business was set up by physicists from the University of Glasgow in January 2022 and the founders, Charles and Yash, received a combined £50,000 loan.Ken Pearce and Yousef Ahmed, Lunia 3D, WalesCowbridge-based Lunia 3D was established in early 2020 by Founding Director Ken Pearce and school friend and business partner Yousef Ahmed, both aged 26 and from Newport. Their 3D printing attracts both small and large specialised projects; from lifesaving military equipment for the Ministry of Defence; to a full-scale car prototype for self-driving testing, and a large bespoke shopfront display for a high-end jeweller in Mayfair, London.Instagram: @lunia3d / Twitter: @lunia3d / Facebook: @lunia3dFabian Clark & Rohan Radhakrishnan – Quarter, LondonAfter noticing a gap in the market for low alcohol content spirits, best friends for 22 years Fabian and Rohan founded Quarter Spirits in 2020 to create the first quarter-strength spirits brand, offering lighter, high-quality cocktails. They have recently launched their second product, Quarter Tequila.Instagram: @QuarterProof / Facebook: @QuarterProofPallavi Ghosh – Anav, South EastAnav, an artisan home décor brand, offers handcrafted, natural treasures from around the world, focusing on sustainability and fair trade principles to make a difference in the world. The name is inspired by the founder’s two children, Anya and Avik.Instagram: @Anav.home / Facebook: @Anav-homeShelley Smith – Finnegan’s Whiskers, East of EnglandFinnegan’s Whiskers, a cat lovers’ café in Sudbury, is aiming to provide a relaxing environment for people to enjoy food and drink in the company of cats, while also helping alleviate pressure on local animal rescue centres through partnerships with Mel’s Rescue for cat adoptions.Instagram: @FinnegansWhiskers / Facebook: @FinnegansWhiskersBex Osman – Love of Lemons, South WestRebecca Osman’s Love of Lemons is a passion-driven Cornwall-based business offering a thoughtfully curated collection of vintage and sustainable clothing, accessories, and lifestyle products, reflecting her dedication to blending old treasures with contemporary flair.Instagram: @LoveofLemons_ / Facebook: @LoveofLemonsvintageJoan Nga, Florence Lao, Kaying Yang – Lemon Tree Softplay Cafe, North EastLemon Tree Softplay Cafe is a new establishment in the heart of Great Park, co-founded by three dedicated mothers who share a common dream of creating a haven for children and their families. The family-friendly space caters to children up to the age of eight, offering a blend of fun, relaxation, and community engagement.Instagram: @lemontreesoftplay / Facebook: @lemontreesoftplaycafeLeo Winstanley – Hand-i-Craft, North WestHand-i-Craft, founded by Leo after a life-changing car accident that left him with the use of only one arm, creates bespoke furniture and unique pieces using reclaimed materials and a variety of wood species. Leo shares his inspiring journey on YouTube and has an active and engaged following.Instagram: @l_and_p_hand_i_craft / YouTube: @Hand-i-Craft / Facebook: @OnehandedwoodworkingVerity Clarke – Amity Brew Co, Yorkshire & The HumberAmity 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. They took out their loan in April 2020.Instagram: @AmityBrewco / Twitter/X: @AmityBrewco /Facebook: @AmityBrewcoRik De Raynor – The Sustainable Kitchen, East MidlandsA plant-based restaurant run by chef and nutritionist, Rik, and his husband. The restaurant has strong eco-creds and all packaging is completely biodegradable. Rik also made the tables in the restaurant to ensure that he wasn’t investing in supply chains that didn’t match his ethos. He took out his loan in August 2022.Instagram: / Facebook: / Twitter/X: @Thesk_co_uk TikTok: Gomes – Light Rave Studios, West MidlandsA production company of photographers and videographers with over 30 years of combined experience. They capture content at all types of events including weddings, corporate functions and gatherings for family and friends. She set up her business in 2022 and took out the loan this year to expand it due to its success.Instagram: @light_rave_studios / Facebook: @lightravestudiosAbout Start Up LoansThe 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 £
  • 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).

UK RegionLoans MadeAmount Lent (£)Average Loan Amount (£)
East Midlands5,92655,508,8839,367
East of England7,57574,413,4799,824
North East5,66852,820,9289,319
North West13,114122,893,4829,371
Northern Ireland1,67114,804,0288,859
South East10,736111,736,80510,408
South West9,13185,949,8459,413
West Midlands8,72082,201,0899,427
Yorkshire and The Humber9,31590,551,9989,721
Region not obtained7829,676,07412,373
Grand Total105,8441,012,966,1519,570