November 12, 2019 @ 13:10 by Richard Dawson
New figures have revealed that the Government backed Start Up Loans programme has lent more than £30.5 million to small businesses in the North East since the scheme was introduced nearly eight years ago.
The programme — a division of the British Business Bank — provides loans between £500 and £25,000 at six per cent interest to aspiring start up owners across the UK, along with free mentorship and guidance to help them get their business off the ground.
The scheme was introduced in 2012 to help foster entrepreneurship in the UK, boost the numbers of new businesses created, and help new companies to scale up.
To date, the Start Up Loans scheme has issued 3,882 loans in the region, with £4.8 million worth of funding granted to local business in the last year alone — an increase of 18.6 per cent since the end of October 2018.
One North East business that has thrived with help from the scheme is Inspiral Cycles, a bicycle shop, workshop, and online retailer based in Bishop Auckland.
Owner Gary Ewing took out a £25,000 loan to go towards stock and equipment to kick-start the business.
The company has since gone on to employ four full-time staff, and Mr Ewing plans to scale up operations by building an extension that will double the size of the current space.
Mr Ewing commented: “Starting a business is the best thing I’ve ever done – but it hasn’t been an easy journey.
“I’ve had to negotiate many hurdles and challenges. Fortunately, Start Up Loans has supported me every step of the way.”
Richard Bearman, managing director of Start Up Loans, added: “Small businesses play a crucial role in their community, creating jobs and enabling economic growth.
“That the value of Start Up Loans to new businesses in the North East has increased by almost one fifth in the past 12 months is really very encouraging for the region.”