In case you missed it last week was Global Entrepreneurship Week, a week set to bring to the fore all things to do with enterprise. Naturally, Start Up Loans seized the opportunity to highlight some of the great work it has been doing to help businesses access capital and mentorship. It was a week to remember heralded by the issuing of our 10,000th loan.
We celebrated the 10,000th loan by inviting the recipient to an exclusive event with the secretary of state, Vince Cable, at Hub Westminster. It was a cold rainy Wednesday morning to most, but to our 10,000th recipient, Allen Martin of Eclipse Property Cornwall, it was the highlight of his short business career to date! We have now administered over £50million of government money to people in need of capital to start their business.
What a long way we have come. I can remember when we administered the first £1million. It seemed like a huge milestone. It seems like only yesterday we had provided loans to 5,000 businesses and now we have passed the 10,000th milestone. We should be very proud of what we have achieved, but there is still a long way to go.
Allen Martin knows all about that. Having served in the Royal Navy for over two decades as an engineer and mechanic, he was medically discharged after being injured in an accident re-fuelling an aircraft. He was left with chronic seborrheic dermatitis which meant he could no longer do his job.
Leaving the Navy after so long was a blow. Imagine spending two decades in a highly-structured system where you have your orders, you know your boundaries and you are one small but vital link in an enormous chain. Then, suddenly, you're on your own.
But rather than feeling lost after the discharge - or demoralised by the banks refusing to lend him money - Allen capitalised on his newfound freedom by applying for a £10,000 loan through us and setting up a property-management business.
His wife and children must be delighted that they are finally seeing much more of Dad after the years he spent bravely serving in the war zones of Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan. I congratulate Allen, and the other 9,999 people who have secured funding through Start Up Loans.
Now the hard work really begins!
The event was a great celebration and a host of other loan recipients got to mingle with the Business Secretary and James Caan.
Beverly Banahane was one of the stars of the event, bringing mountains of delicious cookies which James and Vince sampled! While her teenage friends were dreaming of pop stardom Bev was creating mouth-watering cupcakes and desserts. She started her company, Bev's Cookies, with an £8,000 loan earlier this year.
And let's not forget Kevin Ackerman. His BACA Meaningful Jewellery line (started with the help of a £4,000 loan) is committed to helping women who have survived sex trafficking. So fabulous to see ethical businesses flowering through Start Up Loans.
BACA's mission is to empower these women by sourcing materials from charities that teach crafts to help them support themselves financially. So these brave women learn how to make beautiful jewellery which guarantees them a living.
Vince Cable took time to talk to all of the businesses, filling him with inspiration, letting him know at the coal face what the government's policies are achieving. Start Up Loans is changing lives, and collectively, by starting 10,000 businesses so far, we have created hundreds of jobs, taken people out of unemployment, and helped business men and women up and down the country to access finance.
I wonder what will have changed when we announce 20,000 loans? Many more success stories, many more lives changed, and hopefully, an even bigger pipeline for a strong SME sector for this country.
Follow Yasmina Siadatan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/yas_siadatan