Government selects Welsh start up as an ambassador for UK microbusinesses

A business owner from Wales 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.

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  • Waterfall Ways 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 Waterfall Ways
  • Government-backed scheme has delivered more than 50,000 loans bringing lending total to more than £345million since 2012

Waterfall Ways 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.

Chris Evans launched Waterfall Ways, an outdoor activity start-up in the Brecon Beacons in 2014, after being made redundant. Wanting to showcase the area’s natural beauty and offer fun-packed outdoor activities that everyone could enjoy, he decided to start his own business.

After receiving a £18,000 loan and mentoring from the Start Up Loans Company, he purchased outdoor equipment and began running a range of activities including bushcraft, gorge walking and coasteering. Waterfall Ways now has an annual turnover of £75,000 and caters for corporate parties, as well as for hen and stag groups. Chris is now also leasing a new outdoor centre for the business, with the plan to purchase in the next few years.

Chris Evans, founder of Waterfall Ways, said: “I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but I couldn’t find the right moment. Becoming redundant gave me the motivation to take a leap and give it a go. With the Brecon Beacons on my doorstep, I didn’t need to go far for some inspiration and Waterfall Ways was born! Since then, we haven’t looked back – it’s a family-run business and we now provide a wide range of activities for different groups, from youth groups to hen parties.

“It was intimidating at first as I didn’t know how to secure funding, but thanks to The Start Up Loans Company, I was able to get the business off the ground. Running your own business is something different, it’s so rewarding to see it grow, meet new customers every day and get positive feedback. I’m thrilled to be hailed as an Ambassador for the scheme, and it’s a great recognition of the hard work of my family and I over the last five years.” 

Minister for Small Business, Margot James, said: “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 Waterfall Ways 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.”

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 Wales, the scheme has provided almost 2,000 loans to new and early stage businesses, totalling over £16 million.

Joanna Hill, Interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, said: “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.

“Waterfall Ways is a prime example of what hard work and dedication can achieve. It forms part of the wider 2,000 businesses we’ve supported to date in Wales, totalling £16 million of funding in the country.

“All of our Ambassador’s 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.”

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.
  • Melt Cheese: a shop serving toasties ranging from grilled cheese & haggis to mac & cheese. Mechelle started the venture after being made redundant twice.
  • 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.
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