New Scheme To Help Budding Businesses Bloom
A government initiative which aims to boost entrepreneurship among young people is being rolled out today.
Around £80m worth of loans will be made available to get new businesses off the ground.
David Cameron said he hopes the initiative could lead to 30,000 more start-ups and unleash a "new wave" of enterprise to support much-needed economic growth.
Announcing the StartUp Loan scheme for 18 to 24-year-olds, the Prime Minister said he wanted young people to have the confidence and support to turn "that spark of an idea into the next global brand".
A newly-published enterprise review says Britain would have 900,000 more businesses if it had the same rate of entrepreneurship as the US.
The review, by former Conservative minister Lord Young of Graffham, says "many don't realise the opportunities that enterprise offers".
The StartUp Loans are expected to be worth typically around £2,500, which would be repaid within five years at most. Interest will be charged at the level of the Retail Prices Index plus 3%.
Entrepreneur James Caan, who has been appointed chairman of the fund management company, told Sky News: "This is a very exciting scheme that's going to allocate about £80m to young people who want the opportunity to start their own business.
"With StartUp loans, people will also be given the opportunity to have a mentor, so we're provideing smart capital; expertise with money."
Lord Young, a trade and industry secretary in Margaret Thatcher's government, said the loans would "transform the enterprise potential of a new generation".
"Thirty years ago small businesses were in decline. Now we have record numbers, with many tens of thousands starting each year.
"They are the engine room of our economy and critical to future economic growth."
The scheme is similar to the Prince's Trust Enterprise Programme, which was launched in 1983.
Lenique Louis, who had been unemployed for almost three years, said the programme transformed her life.
"The Prince's Trust gave me the idea to set up my own jewellery making business," she said. "I wouldn't have had the confidence to do it alone, but with support from The Trust I started to feel like anything was possible."
After joining the programme Lenique took part in a four-day workshop to learn the basics of business. She also received a loan and was teamed up with a mentor to provide ongoing support and advice.
"My business mentor was amazing," she said. "He had a lot of experience in business and was always there whenever I needed support. He made me feel more confident and inspired me to keep going when times were rough."