Start up Loans Ambassadors 2022/2023

Two Dragon’s Den winners, a former Hollywood stunt double and a PhD graduate turned toymaker are among 12 business owners announced today as Ambassadors for the Start Up Loans programme. The announcement comes as the programme celebrates its 10-year anniversary, having provided more than £900 million in loans since 2012.

The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its seventh year, celebrates exceptional business owners who have followed their ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the government-backed Start Up Loans programme.

Drawn from each of the UK’s 12 Nations and regions, the 2022 Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s smaller business sector at a grass roots level. More details of the businesses selected from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England’s regions can be found further below.

SUL ambassadors 2022

This year the Start Up Loans programme celebrates its 10-year milestone. It was established as a £10 million pilot scheme by Lord Young in 2012, in the shadow of the financial crisis. His vision was to enable more young people to achieve their dream of setting up their own business, by offering affordable loans and expert advice to those who might otherwise struggle to access funding.

Since then, the programme has delivered more than 97,000 loans to business owners across the UK, amounting to more than £900 million of funding, while expanding to support entrepreneurs of all ages. 40% of loan recipients have been women and 21% people from minority ethnic backgrounds. 40% of recipients have been aged 18-30, reflecting the scheme’s continued support for the next generation of UK business owners.

This years ambassadors:

Emma Airley and Sebastian Bacewicz - Pastéis Lisboa

Emma Airley and Sebastian Bacewicz – Pastéis Lisboa

Glasgow, Scotland

In April 2022, Emma and Sebastian took out a loan of £20,000 each to set up Pastéis Lisboa, Scotland’s first specialist Pastel de Nata bakery, in the heart of Glasgow’s buzzing West End. The pair sought out the very best Pastel de Nata in Lisbon and persuaded the 5th-generation Portuguese patisserie chef to teach them his secrets and help them train their bakery team.

Learn more about Pastéis Lisboa

Matt Thomas and Joby Barnard – Dryad

Abergavenny, Wales

Matt, a triathlete, outdoors-enthusiast, and Joby, a designer with a passion for running, took out a loan of £25,000 in April 2021 to launch Dryad, an outdoor sportswear company for women based in Wales. At the heart of their venture is the desire to make the best quality and sustainable clothing while fighting for better equality in sport.

Learn more about the Dryad Sportswear

Matt Thomas and Joby Bernard – Dryad Sportswear
Claudia Mariza Rosado e Costa – Mama Claudia

Claudia Mariza Rosado e Costa – Mama Claudia

Craigavon, Northern Ireland

In 2018, Claudia took out a loan of £3,300 to launch Mama Claudia, a range of baby and children’s products for stress-free parenting. When Claudia’s first daughter was born, she found it difficult to find the essentials that she needed. So, when she found out she was going to have a second child, she took matters into her own hands, and Mama Claudia was born.

Learn more about Mama Claudia

Dhruvin Patel – Ocushield

Old Street, London

Dhruvin Patel, founder of Ocushield, received a £500 loan via Virgin Startup in 2015 to start his business. The screen protectors support healthy eye function, as people increasingly rely on backlit screens and digital devices in their day-to-day lives. Dhruvin used his loan to set up and design the Ocushield website and the mentoring provided for advice and support in getting the idea off the ground in the early stages.

Learn more about Ocushield

Dhruvin Patel – Ocushield
Joezy Uweh and Amy White – Naturawell

Joezy Uweh and Amy White – Naturawell

Lincoln, East Midlands

Joezy and his business partner Amy, took out funding from Start Up Loans to set up Naturawell in 2021, a plant-based bar and restaurant serving healthy and delicious food and drinks. The business offers a range of healthy products including freshly prepared salad bowls, fresh juices, pancakes, toasties, bagels and smoothie bowls.

Learn more about Naturawell

Chloe Bruce – Chloe Bruce Academy

Woking, South East

Chloe Bruce took out a loan of £12,500 to launch the Chloe Bruce Academy in 2020, a business offering virtual martial arts classes and tutorials. The academy, which offers on-demand and live classes, has taught hundreds of thousands of people, ranging from beginners to professionals, including actors learning new skills for action roles.

Learn more about Chloe Bruce Academy

Chloe Bruce, Chloe Bruce Academy
Alice Wu – Peace and Pure

Alice Wu – Peace and Pure

Cambridge, East of England

Alice Wu, founder of Peace and Pure, who took out her loan of £19,000 in 2020 to start the business. During struggles with her own mental health, she discovered the importance of emotional wellbeing in relation to beauty, plus the benefits of mindfulness and self-love. She saw the need to create a beauty brand that was truly loving and supportive of women’s journey to beauty and wellness.

Learn more about Peace and Pure

Emma Hamlett – Collected

Durham, North East

Emma Hamlett took out a £25,000 loan to open Collected, an independent bookshop specialising in work written by women. Describing herself as a “Covid cliché”, Emma exited stage left from her career as a museum curator in 2020 and began to explore what else might be possible, realising in the process that there was no getting away from books.

Learn more about Collected

Emma Hamlett – Collected
Chantal Charles-Smith – Laughing Llama Coffee and Bistro

Chantal Charles-Smith – Laughing Llama Coffee and Bistro

York, Yorkshire & The Humber

Chantal Charles-Smith took out a £25,000 loan in April 2021 to launch Laughing Llama Coffee and Bistro, a family-friendly destination in York.

Chantal said “As a parent of two young children, I knew first-hand the difficulty of finding somewhere to take kids that is family friendly and serves good quality coffee.

Learn more about Laughing Llama Coffee and Bistro

Nirmla Warwood – Thatch and Stone

Walsall, West Midlands

Nirmla Warwood took out a loan of £25,000 in 2020 to set-up and operate interior accessories company Thatch & Stone. The success of her business has been down to getting funding support, understanding the products, marketing, a good team and long hours.

Learn more about Thatch and Stone

Nirmla Warwood – Thatch and Stone
Hannah Saunders – Toddle Born Wild

Hannah Saunders – Toddle Born Wild

Newent, South West

Hannah Saunders took out a £14,700 loan in 2020 to launch Toddle Born Wild, a natural vegan children skincare brand.

Hannah said: “I was in the RAF for nine years and loved the travel and adventure. I then became a Mum in 2014 and couldn’t find products that would protect my son’s skin when he came on adventures with me.”

Learn more about Toddle Born Wild