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Start Up Loans hits £1bn milestone of loans to UK small businesses

  • Since 2012, Start Up Loans has delivered more than £1bn of loans to more than 105,000 businesses across the UK
  • Almost 70% of loans have gone to businesses outside London and the South East
  • £371m of loans (nearly 40%) have gone to female founders
  • £201m (20%) of loans have gone to people from Black, Asian and other Ethnic Minority backgrounds

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, has delivered more than £1bn of loans since its inception in 2012. The loans have been issued to 105,109 businesses, at an average of £9,547 per business.

Supporting under-represented groups

The Start Up Loans programme provides a means of reaching under-represented groups who are excluded from mainstream finance by helping them start businesses.

Of the £1bn loans, nearly 40% have been lent to female business owners, with a total value of £371m, and 20% have been lent to people from Black, Asian and Other Ethnic Minority backgrounds (not including White Minorities), with a value of £201m.

Just 4% of the UK’s small businesses in 2021 were majority-led by people from an ethnic minority group and only 20% of new businesses had female founders according to The Rose Review.

Backing 18-24s to start a business

Young people between 18-24 years old have received £106m (11%) in loans since the programme began.

70% of lending outside London & the South East

Of the £1bn provided to start ups, nearly 70% has gone to small businesses outside London and the South East. The top three regions receiving Start Up Loans outside of London and the South East are the North West (£121.6m), Yorkshire and the Humber (almost £90m) and the South West (almost £85m).

£1bn milestone case study: Robin Valley Jewellery, Liverpool

The business owners who received the £1bn milestone loan drawn down were Wanchong Chen and Liang Zhang, owners of Robin Valley Limited, a jewellery business based in Liverpool. Robin Valley’s wooden jewellery combines innovation, sustainability and unique design. The business serves as a wholesale supplier to prominent organisations and gift shops including the London and Marwell Zoos, Edinburgh Royal Botanic Garden and the Fitzwilliam Museum. They took out a £15,000 loan to purchase machinery and pay staff wages, which allowed them to expand production.

Wanchong Chen’s advice for budding entrepreneurs looking to start a business or take their existing business to the next level is: “Have the confidence to give it a go. If you don’t try, you won’t know, and if you don’t do it someone else just might. If you’re prepared to learn on the job and learn from your mistakes, then you are well-placed to become a success.

“Start Up Loans provide life-changing funds to small business owners, who otherwise may not be able to secure funding. I used my loan to buy a new laser that is integral to creating our wooden jewellery and pay staff wages. I have huge respect for anyone who tries to start their own business and best of luck to all those who pursue their passion project”.

Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Start Up Loans said:

“Start Up Loans supports people across the UK who are looking to start their own business. To hit £1bn worth of loans after 11 and a half years is a monumental achievement, not just for our business but for entrepreneurs up and down the country. The programme has supported some fantastic success stories, such as Castore, Pip and Nut and Toddle Born Wild, and helped unlock potential across the whole of the UK. The UK has entrepreneurs in every corner and our aim is to do even more going forward to help those that want to set up a business.”

Kevin Hollinrake, Small Business Minister said:

“Across the UK, thousands of small businesses have now been supported by over a billion pounds in Start Up Loans. This crucial support is enabling enterprising companies like Robin Valley start and scale up their ventures and I urge even more to follow in their footsteps.”

Value for money to the UK taxpayer

The Start Up Loans programme has been shown to be value for money to the UK taxpayer, with an independent review showing the economic benefits of the scheme are 5.7 times the economic cost.[¹]


Further information

Andy Ross

Communications Manager, Start Up Loans

m: +44 (0)7741 686 645

The British Business Bank team

MHP Communications

+44 20 3128 8589

Notes to editors

UK RegionLoans MadeAmount Lent (£)Average Loan Amount (£)
East Midlands5,88054,937,0939,343
East of England7,50873,527,5799,793
North East5,63652,456,3789,307
North West13,024121,636,0169,339
Northern Ireland1,64714,534,7288,825
South East10,639110,415,98910,378
South West9,05784,962,7609,381
West Midlands8,67081,560,1399,407
Yorkshire and The Humber9,26389,997,5989,716
Region not obtained7609,400,17412,369
Grand Total105,1091,003,466,3469,547

You can view an interactive heatmap which shows the amount of funding provided in each UK constituency at:

About Start Up Loans

The Start Up Loans programme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.

The primary aim of the Start Up Loans programme is to ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive. A network of Business Support Partner organisations supports applicants in all regions and industries throughout the UK. The Start Up Loans programme is not designed to generate a commercial profit. Capital payments together with the interest are recycled to help meet borrowers’ increasing demands for finance.

Free guides on a range of subjects related to starting a business and recent media press releases are available on the Start Up Loans website.

The funding for the Start Up Loans programme is provided by the Department for Business and Trade (DBT). A development bank wholly government-owned by DBT, the British Business Bank plc is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The British Business Bank and its subsidiary entities are not banking institutions and do not operate as such.

The British Business Bank makes finance markets for smaller businesses work better, helping the sector to prosper, to grow and to build economic activity.

Aside from the return-on-investment numbers these statistics are gross estimates and based on Start Up Loans CRM along with externally commissioned research undertaken by SQW Ltd, with support from BMG Research.