Government selects Essex start up as an ambassador for UK microbusinesses

Press release 10 October 2017

A business owner from Essex has been chosen to represent successful UK start ups by the Government-backed Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) with the return of its Ambassador Programme.

  • Essex based JimJams has been handpicked to represent the Start Up Loans Company as an example of standout start-up success
  • Margot James commends scheme as integral to the microbusiness economy in the UK and praises JimJams
  • Government-backed scheme has delivered more than 50,000 loans bringing lending total to more than £345million since 2012

JimJams is one of six start-ups that has been selected from amongst this year’s top success stories and inspiring businesses. The year-long Ambassador programme was launched at a reception in London on 19th September to honour their hard work and dedication, and celebrate the success of UK start-ups.

The reception began with a panel discussion chaired by The Start Up Loans Company’s interim CEO Joanna Hill. Joanna was joined by Keith Morgan, the CEO of the British Business Bank, of which SULCo is a subsidiary, representatives from SULCo’s Delivery Partner network, and the Ambassadors.

The Start Up Loans Company forms part of The British Business Bank’s UK-wide drive to encourage entrepreneurship, increase the rate of business creation and improve the survival prospects of early-stage businesses.

Kevin Bath and his wife Kellie, from Halstead, Essex, came up with the concept of their business, JimJams, after they struggled to find a healthy alternative to their children’s much-loved chocolate spread. With the help of a £25,000 Government-backed Start Up Loan, Kevin made the decision to quit his job in the City to drive the business. Two-and-a-half years later, JimJams has an annual turnover of £300,000 and their products are retailed by major supermarkets, including Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons. The JimJams healthier spread brand now also includes a range of low-sugar jams and marmalade.

In this day and age, we all know the many downsides to indulging too much in sugar-laden treats. The trouble was, our family has a sweet-tooth! My wife and I searched far and wide, but couldn’t find breakfast spreads for our family that weren’t packed with sugar. So, we took matters into our own hands and just started making our own. Not only did our kids love it, but so did our friends and family, so we knew we were onto something. Quitting my job in the City was the best decision I’ve ever made. I now have the flexibility to spend more time with my family, and I get a real buzz out of watching our family business grow. It’s a real honour to be hailed as an Ambassador by the Start Up Loans Company and I really hope my story inspires others to follow in my footsteps! Kevin Bath founder of JimJams
The Start Up Loans Company has been crucial in helping tens of thousands of aspiring business owners to get their venture off the ground, and this year’s ambassadors such as JimJams, are a great example of what promising entrepreneurs can achieve with the right support. This Government is committed to building an economy that works for everyone and the success of small businesses is crucial to this. That is why ensuring Britain remains the best place in the world to start, grow and scale up a business is at the heart of our Industrial Strategy. Margot James Minister for Small Business

The launch of the Ambassador programme comes as The Start Up Loans Company announces it has provided over 50,000 loans to British start-ups, bringing the total it has lent so far to more than £345million. In the East of England, where JimJams is based, the scheme has provided over 3,000 loans to new and early stage businesses, totalling over £21,000,000.

This year’s Ambassadors showcase the vibrancy and variety of the UK start-up landscape, from cheesemakers to incubator space for start-ups, the six businesses we’ve selected really do represent everything that’s great about this country’s entrepreneurial spirit. JimJams is a prime example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. It forms part of the wider 3,000 businesses we’ve supported to date in the East of England, totalling £21 million of funding across the region. All of our Ambassadors’ stories show the drive and determination it takes to set up a successful business, and we’re immensely proud of the achievements they’ve made. One of the biggest barriers to launching a business is the fear of failure, but we know that with guidance and support, other business owners can follow in the footsteps of our Ambassadors. Joanna Hill Interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company

The Start Up Loans Company provides loans of up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum, as well as offering 12 months of free, dedicated mentoring to each business it supports.

The Ambassadors for 2017 are:

  • Launch 22: a social enterprise which offers office co-working space, mentoring and events for fellow start-ups.
  • Jim Jams: produces a range of reduced-sugar chocolate spreads and jams with listings in all major retailers.
  • Waterfall Ways: offers bespoke outdoor activity days, team building sessions and events on the edge of the Brecon Beacons.
  • Crunchposter: an online recruitment agency which shares adverts with major job boards and now works with leading UK brands including: Boots, Cash Converters and the NHS.
  • Yorkshire Dama: Halloumi cheese production company set up by a Syrian refugee. Razan’s business has gone on to win multiple food awards.