The Start Up Loans Company provides £20 million to microbusinesses in the east of England

Government-backed scheme has provided more than 3,200 loans to start-ups in the region since 2012

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The Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) has reached a significant landmark after lending a total of £20 million to help launch start-ups across the East of England.

Since its creation in 2012, the Government-backed scheme has provided over 3,200 loans to recipients in the region and more than 48,000 in total across the UK.

The Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, formerly the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, formed the company in 2012, which provides loans of up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum, in addition to offering a free mentoring service to each business it supports.

In Cambridge specifically, more than half a million in low-interest funding has been provided to start-ups since the start of the scheme.

Gemma Whiting launched The Linton Kitchen, a Cambridgeshire café in 2013, after securing a loan of £5,000 from the Start Up Loans Company. Having worked in the hospitality industry in both the UK and Australia, Gemma had plenty of experience in the food industry. After graduating with a Media & PR degree, and trying to enter the jobs market during the recession she decided to stick to her roots and launch her own food business, The Linton Kitchen.

The funding from SULCo allowed Gemma to purchase vital start-up equipment such as a professional coffee machine, a stock pile of baking ingredients and furniture to kit out the cafe. Four years on, the Linton Kitchen uses local, seasonal and organic fruit and veg to provide light lunches, coffee and tea, and makes a range of homemade cakes and treats which are popular with locals and tourists alike. Gemma also now designs bespoke wedding cakes for customers.

Gemma’s venture has seen a 25% year-on-year increase in annual turnover and she is looking to work with more companies to provide lunchtime catering, as well as grow its presence in the wedding industry over the next year.

Gemma Whiting, founder of The Linton Kitchen, said: “I wanted to launch a business which offered customers high-quality and local goods. I’d worked in Australia which gave me a real interest in the coffee industry, and I started thinking about launching my own business. Returning to the UK, I was looking for a way to secure a steady income for myself and decided to put my hospitality skills to good use. We’ve created a real following over the past four years and now there is a team of ten of us.

“The funding from the Start Up Loans Company helped me to kick-start the business and get things up and running as soon as possible. Our plan now is to focus on designing more original and special wedding cakes for people’s big day!”

Joanna Hill, Interim CEO at The Start Up Loans Company, said: “The Linton Kitchen is a lovely café situated at the heart of the community. Gemma has shown real entrepreneurial spirit – and business talent – by launching her own business straight out of university. Using her existing skillset, combined with creative cakes she’s won over local customers and built her brand. She just needed some extra financial support to get the business off the ground and we’ve been able to provide that. I’m sure the business will go from strength to strength as it establishes itself in the world of weddings.

“Start-ups in the East of England are benefiting from improving transport links, and from being on the doorstep of London’s wealth of customers. It’s a fantastic area to do business and it’s encouraging to see so many start-ups able to launch by getting access to the right funding and support. Future entrepreneurs are often put off by the difficulties of securing finance. We’re looking forward to bridging that gap and make self-employment accessible for everyone.”

The Start Up Loans Company, which merged with the British Business Bank (BBB) earlier this year, provides low-interest finance and support to new businesses and those trading for less than two years. The scheme 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.

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