THE BLOG

The Rise of the Entrepreneur

19/02/2014 14:25 GMT | Updated 21/04/2014 10:59 BST

Entrepreneurs across the country are playing a vital role in driving the UK's economic recovery. Out of the mess caused by the worst financial crisis in living memory, Britain has found itself a new identity as the land of the startup.

We have a fantastic tradition as an island full of creativity and invention. From the worldwide web and steam engine to cement, the telephone and television, few places in the world can compete on a similar scale. Not bad for a collection of islands on the edge of the north Atlantic.

We are in the midst of an enterprise explosion. Figures from StartUp Britain show a record 500,000 new British businesses were started in 2013 alone, building on similarly impressive figures for 2012 and 2011. And at only 6 full working weeks in to 2014, with already over 70,000 new registrations, we are going from strength to strength.

The rise of the entrepreneur suggests a much wider cultural shift is taking place across the UK - we're now quite rightly and proudly championing entrepreneurs as our saviors. We are now treating seriously what was once dismissed as hair-brained schemes and the domain of the likes of Del Boy.

The importance of entrepreneurship in today's cultural landscape underlines a growing faith that business can address economic uncertainty, that startups can stimulate growth, and that enterprise can provide the solutions to shared problems.

But if entrepreneurs are to continue transforming the UK - and trust me they will - we have to get better at ensuring those with the world-beating ideas can access the support, guidance and funding they need to make an impact.

As it is, the surge of entrepreneurial spirit is being stifled by the restricted flow of finance to potential business owners. Only last month, Bank of England data revealed small to medium-sized businesses are still struggling to access funding from traditional outlets.

Lending figures showed businesses paid back £4.3bn more than they borrowed in the three months to the end of November, with SMEs hardest hit. The Funding for Lending scheme is failing and the majority of high street banks are unable to lend to startups.

The silver lining of the downturn is it has opened the doors to innovation and stimulated a debate about how best to help new businesses hit the ground running. For many early stage businesses, high street loans are not the best solution.

Money can only take an entrepreneur so far and School for Startups knows that education is just as critical as cash in instilling the confidence and expertise needed to turn a great idea, determination and passion into a great business.

This week, we have proudly announced a new strategic partnership with Barclays Business that we believe will have a huge impact on the UK's entrepreneurial future. Together, we will enable more entrepreneurs than ever before to access our breakthrough package for entrepreneurs. This is called the School for Startups Launcher Programme and marries social loans with the education and support needed to make the most of every last penny.

Now, when a startup either opens a new business account, or applies for but is not eligible for a loan with Barclays Business, the Business Managers will now be able to recommend our Launcher Programme as an alternative route for the entrepreneur.

This partnership means that rejection is not the end of the road and removes a key psychological wall so many encounter when first pitching their business plans. The UK is fertile ground for new businesses and both School for Startups and Barclays Business are committed to creating an environment where great business ideas are nurtured and allowed to flourish.

Since 2008 we have helped nearly 30,000 entrepreneurs through supplying government loans or providing business education. Through the partnership announced this week, we're hoping to reach countless more.