The Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) has issued its 50,000th loan to UK start-ups to help drive the growth of the country’s small businesses.
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The Government-backed scheme has now provided over £345million to start-ups and early-stage businesses across the UK since its inception in 2012.
The Start Up Loans Company, which merged with the British Business Bank (BBB) earlier this year, provides low-interest finance up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed rate per annum, as well as support and free mentoring to new businesses and those trading for less than three years.
One of the scheme’s first recipients was High Six Media, a video production company based in London launched by twin brothers Nick and Luke Ogden. The duo received a £5,000 Start Up Loan which supported the purchase of camera equipment, and now five years on, they produce films for international brands including Mulberry, Red Bull, Nike and Diesel.
Nick Ogden, founder of High Six Media, said:
“Having an idea you’re committed to is one thing, but transforming it into a profitable business is a different matter entirely. My brother and I always had a passion for all things film-related, but without the helping hand of a Start Up Loan I know we’d have struggled to turn that passion into a viable business and making films could have remained a side-line of ours.
“After we’d received the funding and were guided through the process by The Start Up Loans Company, we were assigned a dedicated mentor who coached us through the early stages of setting up a business which was invaluable. We’ve come so far since our launch and we’re proud to now be on the books of some of the world’s most high profile brands, and doing what we love. It’s a big achievement for us.”
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.
Since launch, the Government-backed scheme has contributed to the creation of more than 60,000 jobs, 46% of loan recipients were formerly NEET (not in employment, education or training) and 42% were formerly unemployed or economically inactive.
Small Business Minister, Margot James, said:
“Small businesses are the beating heart of the British economy, and supporting them to succeed and grow is central to the Government’s Industrial Strategy.
“The Start Up Loans Company is a great example of how we are supporting the UK’s vibrant start up culture, by removing barriers to finance. I want to congratulate them on supporting 50,000 promising businesses, helping Britain remain the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”
One of the thriving businesses the Start Up Loans Company has supported in the past twelve months is Complete Unity Yoga, which launched after receiving financial backing from the Start Up Loans Company. The business, based in Stirling, Scotland, sells yoga equipment across the UK, as well as providing yoga workshops and international retreats for its customers.
Will Fisher, 26, and Malene Vedel, 26, started their venture after spending time at a wellness retreat during a year abroad in India. They quickly noticed the benefits of regular stretching and meditation and after returning to the UK they were inspired to leave their former jobs in retail and charity and take up something they loved.
They approached the Start Up Loans Company and successfully secured £7,500 of funding, which was used to develop their website, assist with cash-flow and purchase stock equipment.
The duo has already opened retreats in India and Spain, and plan to increase their international footprint with new sites in Denmark and Sweden. The business currently donates 5% of profits to charity as part of its ongoing CSR activity.
Will Fisher, co-founder of Complete Unity Yoga, said:
“After practicing yoga during a stint in India, Malene and I returned to the UK feeling inspired by a new hobby that has so many mental and physical benefits. We didn’t want to simply ‘live for the weekend’ and realised we could share our passion for the sport by setting up our own yoga business.
“Once the idea was born, we just needed access to capital to make our dreams a reality. That’s where the Start Up Loans Company came in – the funding and mentoring support we received provided us with the right guidance to start our journey and create our very own retreat, which is now international.”
Joanna Hill, Interim CEO of Start Up Loans Company, said:
“Hitting our 50,000th loan is a proud moment for the Start Up Loans Company. We’re committed to supporting those people who have a brilliant idea they want to bring to fruition, but need the funding and expertise in order to do so. Seeing businesses like High Six Media and Complete Unity Yoga start up and scale up is a perfect example of why the scheme is here.”