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Start Up Loans set to unlock the potential of young entrepreneurs following the pandemic

  • New British Business Bank campaign encourages people thinking about their career options to start their own business and become their own boss via the Start Up Loans scheme
  • The majority of unemployed people (54%) who have become entrepreneurs through Start Up Loans since 2012 are millennial’s


18 May 2021: Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, today sets out its commitment to unlock the talent of thousands more people across the UK by helping them to start their own business.

The disruptive impact of Coronavirus on the UK’s economy and traditional working patterns has catalysed many to reconsider their careers, whether because of additional time to reflect during lockdown, furlough or a change in employment status.

Of the 80,000+ Start Up Loans recipients since 2012, a third (31%) were unemployed at the time of application. Start Up Loans data also indicates that the scheme is particularly effective in enabling young entrepreneurs to start up a business, with millennial’s representing more than half (54%) of all previously unemployed loan recipients since 2012.

The Start Up Loans scheme has also seen this trend continue with the youngest generation of entrepreneurs, with double the number of Gen Z (18-24 year old) applicants using the scheme as a route out of employment in 2020 compared to 2019.

The Start Up Loans scheme was initially set up as the UK economy was recovering from the 2008 credit crisis, with a mission to make business ownership a viable career for individuals who would struggle to raise finance. Building on a nine-year track record of success, the scheme is set to play a vital role as our economy starts to rebuild after the impact of Covid-19, providing both funding and wider support for people starting up their own business for the first time.

Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Start Up Loans said: “Start Up Loans is uniquely positioned to drive the nation’s investment in creative, entrepreneurial talent of any age, thanks to our extensive network of delivery partners and support services. As well as a loan, we support individuals with the practical steps they need to take to begin their own enterprise from writing business plans, accounting and marketing, as well as access to learning with partners such as The Open University.

“It is paramount that we do everything to empower the next generation of young working talent, who have an important part to play in unlocking the UK’s economic recovery, by giving them every chance to succeed, whatever their circumstances. Unemployment can have a catastrophic impact on an individual’s financial security, self-confidence and ability to apply for finance from lenders, and the support provided by Start Up Loans can be of particular use to younger, less experienced business owners.”

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said: “The Government’s Start Up Loans programme has a phenomenal track record of backing budding entrepreneurs across the UK, having helped more than 80,000 people to start their own business.

“Anyone out there looking to strike out, seize opportunities and build something new can benefit from the funding and support which the programme provides. This campaign will be pivotal to our ambition of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business and help us build back better from the pandemic.”

James Talbot, Co-Founder of Pobi Bakery, said: “At the start of the pandemic my partner, Jake, was made redundant and we decided that it was time to start working for ourselves. We took out a loan of £20,000 from Start Up Loans in September 2020 and have never looked back.

“The process of becoming unemployed is stressful and full of uncertainties, but the fact that everyone in the UK has access to schemes like Start Up Loans should be cause for optimism in the current economic environment. Despite all the challenges thrown at the retail industry throughout the last year, we have managed to employ 3 members of staff, open a second site, and are forecasting a turnover of £250,000 in the next financial year. It’s been a huge journey for both of us.”

The Start Up Loans programme provides finance and support for businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs who struggle to access other forms of finance, working with a national network of Delivery Partners based across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Andy Fishburn, Managing Director of Start Up Loans Delivery Partner, Virgin StartUp said: “Virgin StartUp exists to help founders in the UK to start and scale early stage businesses. We’re proud to be working with the British Business Bank to deliver the Start Up Loans scheme to ensure that applicants receive the right combination of funding and support, to not only start up and survive, but thrive. Small businesses have such a vitally important role to play as we look to rebuild communities, the economy and the world more broadly. We look forward to continuing to work with future founders, in our shared mission to inspire entrepreneurs around the UK.”


For more information, please contact:
Start Up Loans

Notes to Editors

Key figures

Generation of applicant Percentage share of total loans to unemployed applicants since 2012
Millennials (D.O.B 1981 to 1996)53.6%
Generation X (D.O.B 1965 to 1980)32.9%
Baby Boomers (D.O.B 1946 to 1964)12.3%
Gen Z (D.O.B 1997 to 2012/15)1.2%



UK Region% of region’s 2020 Start Up Loans recipients unemployed at time of application% of region’s Start Up Loans recipients since 2012 unemployed at time of application% of total unemployed UK Start Up Loans recipients since 2012Value of funding to unemployed loan recipients 01 March 2020 to 31 March 2021 (£)Regional values of funding to unemployed loan recipients since 2012 (£)
East Midlands10.4%35.8%5.7%836,6326,925,768
East of England11.4%34.3%7.2%1,100,1058,797,231
Greater London12.1%29.7%21.2%2,702,67025,775,412
North East11.9%24.2%5.4%730,9756,580,299
North West11.7%28.4%12.1%1,364,98814,735,281
Northern Ireland11.1%30.2%1.7%242,2002,124,612
South East16.3%28.7%8.8%1,581,96510,677,746
South West9.6%33.2%8.0%1,138,6499,737,668
West Midlands11.6%36.7%9.4%1,266,23211,393,003
Yorkshire and The Humber13.0%25.4%7.5%896,9609,131,689


  • Latest data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) reports that in March 2021 the UK unemployment rate was estimated at an average of 4.9%, 0.9 percentage points higher than the same time period the previous last year but 0.1 percentage points lower than the previous quarter.
  • Think-tank the Resolution Foundation reported in February that 8% of people currently working either expected to lose their jobs by May or had already been told that they would be made redundant.

About Start Up Loans
The Start-Up Loans Company, part of the British Business Bank, was formed in June 2012. The Start Up Loans scheme 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 scheme 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 scheme is not designed to generate a commercial profit. Capital payments together with the interest are recycled to help meet our customers’ 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 scheme 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.