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Start Up Loans programme surpasses £60m of loans to businesses in the East of England

  • Start Up Loans has facilitated 6,831 loans worth over £64 million, to businesses in the East of England since 2012
  • Average loan across the East of England is £9,475
  • Alex Ward and Kishan Bharwad, from Essex founders of footwear brand Bahé Design Ltd received a loan of £25,000 in October 2021

Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, announces that the programme has delivered almost 7,000 loans worth over £64 million to businesses in the East of England. The figures point to the spirit of entrepreneurship in the region, with the average loan being £9,475.

Essex has received the highest number of loans in the region to date, with 1,842 loans in total amounting to over £17 million for entrepreneurs in the region, followed by Hertfordshire and Norfolk. The county in the East of England with the highest average loan amount was Cambridgeshire, with a median of £9,885.

The Start Up Loans programme was established in 2012 to reduce regional imbalances by supporting people across the UK to achieve their ambitions of starting their own businesses. Two such business owners to receive funding from Start Up Loans are Alex Ward and Kishan Bharwad, founders of Bahé Design Ltd Colchester, Essex, the world’s first grounded running shoe. At the heart of their business is the desire to reconnect individuals with nature using a shoe design that allows people to have direct electronic connection to the earth, therefore creating a flow between body and ground. Bahé is the Hindi word for flow. The two co-founders barely knew each other when they embarked on their entrepreneurship journey, but both project manager, Kishan and designer, Alex  connected through their love of running and a passion for sustainability and nature. Below they share their tips for those who might be considering starting a business of their own.

Kishan Bharwad, co-founder of Bahé Design Ltd, said:

“If you go into a new industry, have a bit of patience. You will need time to get up to speed, so don’t get discouraged and persevere.”

Alex Ward, added:

“Have a vision and good planning – and that includes financial forecasting. We knew where our strengths were and where we needed support. We used our £25,000 loan to finance the marketing and advertising for the business, so we were free to handle other things.  It’s also important to give good briefs to the people you work with as well as good feedback. There’s so many day-to-day decisions to make that it’s important to surround yourself with people with different skillsets.”

Paul Sullivan, Senior Manager UK Network, East of England, British Business Bank, said:

“A huge milestone for the government backed Start Up Loans programme has been reached in the East of England with over £60 million delivered to nearly 7,000 start-ups and early-stage businesses. This a great reflection of the ambition of the region’s entrepreneurial talent. This milestone highlights our commitment to providing ongoing funding to smaller businesses, particularly in areas where there are real social and economic barriers preventing access to finance for those who need support.”

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Notes to editors

About Start Up Loans

The Start-Up Loans Company, part of the British Business Bank, was formed in June 2012. 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 for 12 months and support to each borrower.

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 Delivery Partner organisations support 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 start-ups’ increasing demand for finance.

Free guides on a range of subjects related to starting a business are available on the Start Up Loans website: You can find recent media coverage and press releases in the Start Up Loans Media Centre here: The funding for the Start Up Loans programme is provided by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Start-Up Loans Company is a subsidiary of the British Business Bank plc. The bank is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government which is not authorised or regulated by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). British Business Bank plc 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, enabling the sector to prosper, grow and build economic activity.

Start Up Loans – impact

  • Since 2012, the Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 96,000 loans, providing over £890 million of funding.
  • In the financial year 2021/22, the programme provided 12,433 loans with a total value of approximately £152 million.
  • Since 2012, 30% of loans went to people formerly unemployed or economically inactive. 40% were women and 20% of our loan recipients were from ethnic minority groups, excluding white minorities.
  • The economic benefits of the Start Up Loans programme are almost six (5.7) times its economic costs.
  • At Spending Review 2021, the Chancellor announced resources to provide 33,000 Start Up Loans over next three years.

For more information about Start Up Loans, please visit: