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.

East Midlands is a top start-up hub for female business owners

Women account for 40% of Start Up Loan recipients in the region

The East Midlands is the most popular region outside of London for women setting up their own businesses with funds from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme, according to data released today.

Women account for almost 40% of the Start Up Loans funding allocated to aspiring business owners in the East Midlands since 2012, according to data from the Government-backed Start Up loans programme.

Of the 3,645 loans awarded under the scheme in the region, totalling £26m, 39.9% went to women, equivalent to 1,455 loans. Only in London was the figure higher, with 42% of Start Up Loans going to female recipients, the data shows.

In total, the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has awarded 64,953 loans to date, totalling £510million across the UK since 2012, with 25,701 going to women looking to start their own business.

Among the women in the East Midlands who successfully applied for a Start Up Loan was Aimee Johnstone, founder of MommaMakes, based in Nottingham, who used a fixed-interest £2,000 loan in 2015 to set up her own unique brand of children’s clothing.

After having a baby and struggling to find fun and practical baby or maternity clothes which appealed to her, Aimee decided to create her own brand that took a stand against an industry taking itself too seriously.

She used the loan to buy machinery and started to make the clothes on her kitchen table.  Within six months Aimee took the leap to quit her job and run her business full time.

MommaMakes has become renowned for signature T-shirt bearing slogans such as “Tired Mums’ Club” and Aimee’s clothes are now being exported across the world.

After London and the East Midlands, the South West emerged as the region where women received the highest proportion of loans, with 39.8% of its 2,132 loans going to women. The East of England came next, with 39.6% of its loans going to women.

Of those who received a loan in the East Midlands, just under a fifth (17.5%) came from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and just over two fifths (42.2%) were unemployed when they applied for the loan, reflecting the diversity of the UK start up community.

Aimee Johnstone, Founder of MommaMakes, said:

“So much pressure is put on pregnant mums to look a certain way and take their pregnancy very seriously, but when I had my baby I realised I wanted to help other mums to still have fun while feeling great and comfortable in themselves.

“I couldn’t have done this without the help of the Start Up Loans scheme. Not only did they give me the funding I needed to set up the business, but they also provided mentoring support to help me get started.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said:

“We’re absolutely delighted that we have helped so many women in the East Midlands, and indeed across the UK, to set up their own businesses. Businesses like MommaMakes demonstrate what can happen when you follow your passion and persevere, despite the ups and downs.

“Small businesses are absolutely vital to local economies, helping to create jobs and generate income, and we would encourage anyone who thinks they have an idea for a business to come to us and speak to one of our many advisors. We’re committed to helping small businesses prosper and grow and we look forward to supporting many more in the future.”

Breakdown of loans to women by region:

RegionPercentage of total loans to the region that went to female business owners (%)No. of loans to female business owners
East Midlands39.9%1,455
South West39.7%2,132
East of England39.6%1,701
West Midlands39.3%2,148
South East39.3%2,265
Yorkshire and the Humber38.7%2,210
North West38.6%3,065
North East38.1%1,425
Northern Ireland35.5%360