A UK start-up that was set up to support young entrepreneurs has helped over 700 young people to start their own business since it was founded just four years ago.
After securing £10,000 from the Government-backed Start Up Loans Company, Launch22 used the money to set up a communal workspace in London, providing mentoring and networking events for people “facing barriers to entrepreneurship”. These included people with first-hand experience of the criminal justice system, the long-term unemployed, refugees and people with disabilities.
A year after its launch, the business partnered with Catch22, a national charity working at every stage of the welfare cycle, enabling them to continue their support and unlock growth opportunities.
Last year Launch22 launched its incubator programme, a three-month course that is designed to equip entrepreneurs with the skills and networks they need to make their business idea a success. The summer programme was heavily oversubscribed, with over 50 applicants competing for just 7 spaces.
One of the successful applicants was Lancelot, the founder of Dr Juicy, which makes natural fruit juices. Lancelot moved to the UK from Jamaica and wanted to turn his passion for creating health juices into a business.
Lancelot was determined to succeed and secured a place on Launch22’s 2018 summer programme. He was initially concerned that his time in prison and no formal education would make it difficult to run a business. Since then, his business has grown, and he is confident about the future. His products are now full licenced, and he regularly sells his juices at popular markets across London.
Ahmed Abdullahi, credits the incubator programme with helping his business. Ahmad has attained residency in the UK and set up Deqa Foods in July 2018 with his wife, Deika. The business sells authentic Somali cuisine at a series of food stalls including one on Brick Lane in East London.
Since participating in the programme, Mr Abdullahi has secured a loan from the Start Up Loans Scheme to help him and his wife expand their business and create their own line of pastes and sauces.
Ahmed Abdullahi, founder of Deqa Foods, said:
“I have gained invaluable business skills during my time at Launch22. The mentors and all the great network of people at Launch22 have really laid the foundation for my entrepreneurship. They have equipped me with all the necessary tools to turn the wheel and run my own business.”
Tom Previte, Head of Operations at Launch 22, said:
“We’re delighted that we’ve helped so many young people start their own business. Many early stage businesses tell us that they don’t have the right skills or networks to realise their own ambitions, especially those who do not come from a well-connected background.
“Schemes like our incubator programme are critical to improving the diversity of entrepreneurial talent in the UK, and we hope that we can continue to support a generation of aspiring business owners that would otherwise not have the means or networks to successfully start a business.”
Following the success of the summer 2018 incubator programme, Launch22 plans to run a spring 2019 cohort, with applications opening soon.
Since the scheme was set up in 2012, it has lent over £450m to aspiring business owners, providing 59,000 loans to people across the UK from all walks of life. 40% of individuals who started a business using Start Up Loans were unemployed prior to applying
In addition to providing finance, the scheme offers a dedicated mentoring service to every loan recipient to help them with every aspect of setting up a business, from writing their business plan to marketing.