Start Up Loans scheme sees post-pandemic increase in over 50s accessing finance

Start Up Loans scheme sees post-pandemic increase in over 50s accessing finance
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Thu 14th Mar 2024

The government's flagship funding scheme for small businesses, which launched in 2012, has lent £140m to founders over 50, half of which has been provided since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New figures from Start Up Loans show that 4,664 loans totalling £63,928,454 have been issued to older entrepreneurs since April 2020. The average loan per business is £13,707, up by more than £2,600 compared to the four-year period before the pandemic.

With 2,320 loans worth £21,466,941, London is the area with the most over 50s receiving funding since 2012. However, 85% of the finance has been allocated outside the capital. The North West is the region to receive the most finance outside of London and the South East, accounting for £16m of funding.

Eduardo Barreto is a business owner over 50 who sought finance. He received a £10,000 Start Up Loan in October 2023, using it to help produce shows at The Arcola Theatre for his Bermondsey-based production company, Boy Next Door. He said:

"I founded the company four years ago, but it had a slow start due to a health incident. Now that I'm well again, the funding has enabled me to get back to doing what I love most -- producing successful shows.

"It wasn't only the loan that was important to me, however, Start Up Loans introduced me to Giuseppe, my business mentor and my rock. I wouldn't have succeeded in my application without him, so I am eternally grateful.

"To anyone else of a similar age thinking about starting their own business, my advice would be to find something you are passionate about and go for it. Keep your left foot in dream world and your right foot in the real world and you'll find the balance needed to succeed."

Richard Bearman, managing director, small business lending at British Business Bank, added:

"As Eduardo demonstrates, you can further your business ambitions at any age. It's why we encourage anyone with a good business idea to get in touch and learn more about how the Start Up Loans programme might be able to help turn it into reality.

"It is interesting to note the high proportion of the funding during and after the pandemic, suggesting that many people aged 50+ re-evaluated and took action to pursue their business ambitions."

Start Up Loans provides loans of up to £25,000 at an annual fixed interest rate of 6%.

Helping the over 50s start businesses

Supporting older people back into work or entrepreneurship must be a key focus if the UK economy is going to reach its full potential, an Enterprise Nation report found.

'Access all Areas: Older workers' argued that there are things we can do to turn the dial and begin to reverse the exodus of older people from the UK workforce that was triggered by the pandemic, by actively helping those that have left to restart their careers or to start a business.

Enterprise Nation's Small Business Barometer found that the average age of the UK's small business founder is 46, and that 35% of businesses are started and run by people over 50.

Relevant funding resources

Download The StartUp Kit for tips on starting a business

Access advice via Enterprise Nation's StartUp UK campaign

Book a free call with a finance expert

How to choose the right type of funding for you

Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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