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North West named biggest start-up region outside of London

Government-backed programme has delivered 8,366 loans, providing £65 million in funding, to start-ups and early stage businesses in the region since 2012.

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The North West has overtaken the South East to become the UK’s most entrepreneurial region outside of London, new figures suggest.

Data from Start Up Loans – part of the British Business Bank – shows that the Government-backed programme has delivered 8,366 loans, providing over £65 million in funding to start ups in the North West, since it launched seven years ago.

This compares with 6,062 loans and almost £52 million in funding for the South East, the next largest region.

The North West was beaten only by London as the most entrepreneurial region in the UK. According to the figures, Start Up Loans has delivered 15,423 loans, providing more than £123 million in funding to start ups in the capital.

Christopher Hughes, founder of Little Legends

Christopher Hughes, founder of Little Legends

One of the North West businesses supported by Start Up Loans is Little Legends, a business in Manchester providing football training and learning programmes for young children.

The founder, Christopher Hughes, had been teaching football to children since he was 16, working several jobs on the side to make ends meet. Determined to pursue a career in children’s football but unable to afford to buy into existing franchises, he decided to start his own business.

At the age of just 21, he used a £5,000 Start Up Loan to launch Little Legends, which incorporates learning with football training. He now runs classes in 30 nurseries, pre-schools and weekend clubs across Manchester, Salford and Wigan – and he is launching a book with a training programme for older children. He has also set up a football charity to help children in more deprived areas.

The Start Up Loans programme provides fixed-interest loans of up to £25,000 to aspiring business owners from across the UK, many of whom might be struggling to access other forms of finance. Since 2012, it has lent £527 million through 66,435 loans.

In addition to finance, Start Up Loan applicants receive support from an expert business advisor to help them prepare a business plan and cash flow report. Successful applicants are also offered 12-months of free mentoring to guide them through the early stages of their business journey.

Christopher Hughes, founder of Little Legends, said: “Football is my passion and thanks to Start Up Loans I was able to turn my dream of teaching football as a career into a reality. The success of Little Legends shows that if you believe in your idea, work hard and get the right support, you can achieve your goal.” 

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “Start Up Loans exists to help people like Christopher gain access to the funding and support they need to start a business. What Christopher has achieved with Little Legends is fantastic and we are proud to have played a part in helping him and so many others across the North West to realise their ambition of business ownership.” 

Peter Treadwell, Operations Director at Start Up Loans Delivery Partner GC Business Finance, said: “Little Legends is a fantastic business that has really benefitted from this Government initiative. Christopher’s story will resonate with thousands of entrepreneurs across the country, as many SMEs require funding to get their ideas off the ground and to realise their ambitions. The Start Up Loans programme is going a long way in supporting small businesses and, in doing so, strengthening the UK’s economy. We are incredibly proud to be part of the delivery of this great scheme.”

Breakdown of loans by region (as at end October 2019)

UK RegionLoans MadeAmount Lent (£)Average Loan Amount (£)
East Midlands3,79628,035,6397,386
East of England4,51435,475,0537,859
Isle of Man15,0005,000
North East3,88230,538,9737,867
North West8,36665,043,5817,775
Northern Ireland1,0607,735,8267,298
South East6,06251,888,6258,560
South West5,60243,964,8557,848
West Midlands5,69143,687,4227,677
Yorkshire and The Humber5,75248,196,0178,379
Region not obtained4655,356,54411,519
Grand Total67,862542,959,2808,001