Recently we marked a significant milestone for the Start Up Loans Company as we celebrated issuing our 25,000th loan, taking our total lending to £130million since the scheme started in autumn 2012. As the Prime Minister was making his speech in Ipswich on the economy, and the number of jobs and businesses created since 2010, we were also delighted to announce that the Start Up Loans Scheme has now created approximately 32,000 jobs since 2012.
The 'winner' of our 25,000th loan, was Nicola Weeks from Bedford, who used her £8,500 to start her own bridal gown business. Nicola is just the latest in a long line of female entrepreneurs to take advantage of the scheme. As the Prime Minister has said, there has never been a better time to start a business in Britain, and furthermore, judging from our own data, there has never been a better time to start a business as a woman.
One of the most encouraging things to emerge from the scheme is the number of female applicants. A third of all our lending has gone to women, bucking the national trend which currently stands at around 17% of all business start-ups being created by women. There are now almost 1.5 million self-employed women which represents an increase of around 300,000 since before the economic downturn. Stats also suggest that at least 10% of the female population are considering going it alone which is why we have been so keen to pursue this particular demographic.
I was delighted to accompany the Prime Minister during his visit to the East of England last month as he got to witness this at first hand, meeting with five female entrepreneurs who have all benefited from the Start Up Loans scheme. Apart from being enterprising and hard working, these women all share one thing in common - they love working for themselves - something I hold dear to my own heart. The great thing about the scheme is that it has given the security to many people who may have feared going it alone; both with the financial kick start and the mentoring that they receive which can provide guidance and the benefit of experience to overcome any obstacles in the difficult early stages of a business.
Amongst those the PM met was entrepreneur Keri Bird from Bury St Edmonds, who started her 3D casting business, Birds Baby Boutique, with a £6,000 Start Up Loan. She describes her decision to start her own business as the 'best thing she has ever done'. This unique and bespoke business creates beautifully handcrafted and expertly finished baby hand and foot casts, leaving parents with the most treasured keepsake. The business has been a great success so far. Keri operates a franchise model and currently has two franchisees operating in Essex and Milton Keynes. She is looking to expand her franchise model across the UK.
The PM also met Kate Midgely, who opened her business KM Aid in July 2013 with the help of a £1,200 loan. Kate, a qualified secondary school teacher, was unable to find a new role in education when she moved to a new town. Having previously trained people in first aid as a teacher, starting her own business seemed like the ideal solution. She now runs a successful business offering first aid courses to local businesses and schools. Kate's is a great example of a business which is having a wider positive effect on the local community as well as the economy.
Keri and Kate are just two examples of the thousands of women who have benefited from the scheme and we will continue to strive to buck the national trend of women starting businesses. On Monday this week we hosted an event in London to celebrate the achievements of mumpreneurs and the Start Up Loans schemes' success in galvanising female entrepreneurs up and down the country. In attendance were a number of great examples of impressive mumpreneurs and female business owners. On current trends, we will hopefully be celebrating increasing that percentage of women taking loans by the time we have reached our next milestone of 30,000 loans, and make 2015 an even better year for those wanting to start their own business.