A JOURNAL-BACKED campaign to provide cash to help young entrepreneurs get their businesses off the ground was officially launched yesterday.
The first four successful applicants were awarded their funding as part of Virgin Money’s start-up loans scheme at the bank’s Newcastle headquarters.
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Money has partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) in the delivery of start-up loans for young aspiring business people.
The Government, through the department for Business, Innovation and Science (BIS), has provided funding of £1m, over the next 12 months, to be offered in the form of small business start-up loans in the North East and Cumbria.
The initiative is aimed at young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 24. It is expected the loan size will be between £250 and £25,000, with an average of around £5,000.
The consortium was joined yesterday by a group of distinguished guests from across the region to officially launch the scheme. Guests included regional MPs, business heads and community group leaders.
The successful start-up loan applicants include Jodi and Stella Kean, of Choclateas in Newcastle, which makes natural and organic chocolate teas, with flavoured extracts such as chilli and vanilla.
Andrew Emmerson is starting up Montagu DIY & Hardware, a new DIY and hardware store in Newcastle, focussing on selling items for general repairs in the home.
Luke Statter and Sam Driver will launch Thousand Yard Films, a high-end commercial film production company in Teesside, while Krystal Barkway, Christopher Brown and Matthew Reay, will start-up KMC Productions, a video production company based in Newcastle.
Richard Clark, director of workspace at PNE, said: “Project North East is delighted to be helping young people to launch their business with a start-up loan.
“Having guided these ambitious young people through the process, it’s very rewarding to be able to make the loans announced here today. We wish them all good luck for the future and hope that their businesses will be very successful.
“This is a great start and we already have another 450 inquiries to deal with.”
Virgin Money’s chief executive Jayne-Anne Gadhia said: “This is fantastic news for the region and a great opportunity for any young person with a brilliant business idea.
“This scheme gives access to start-up funding at a time when it might otherwise be difficult and will allow successful applicants to take those all important first steps into the world of business.
“I’d encourage anyone between 18 and 24 who is sitting on a great business idea to take a serious look at this scheme and to get in touch with Project North East and present their business plan. This could be the start of something really exciting for them.
“The spirit of entrepreneurship is synonymous with the Virgin brand and, of course, Sir Richard Branson and we are delighted to be able to launch and support this great initiative here in the North East and Cumbria.”
The consortium also intends to deliver a training, mentoring and engagement programme, to enable unemployed young people and young people from the region’s deprived areas to learn how to run a business and to find out more about the start-up loans programme.
More information about the start-up loans can be found at www.startuploansnortheast.co.uk