December 11 2013 Latest news:
Ben Woods, Business writer
Thursday, October 24, 2013
NWES is joining forces with entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson to help kick-start 2,000 new businesses across the country – including about 250 in the east.
The Norwich-based enterprise agency is part of a consortium which has thrown its weight behind Virgin StartUp, a non-for-profit company backing young entrepreneurs with loans, mentoring and marketing support.
During a launch event in London today, it was revealed that the new venture would work closely with the Start-Up Loans Company to help finance entrepreneurs between 18-and-30 years old, while drawing on the support of Virgin’s UK companies.
And NWES said it will be able to loan out up to £25,000 from a pot of £10m, but expected to issue an average loan of £5,000.
It comes after Virgin Money launched a pilot programme in the North East to deliver start-up loans last year, which backed more than 100 businesses with £600,000 in funding.
Kevin Horne, chief executive of the Cavendish Consortium in charge of NWES, said: “NWES will be doing the loans for everyone around the country. It’s a big contract for us and very prestigious.
“It catapults us into a different arena. We are partnering with one of the world’s best-known brands. What they are bringing to the table is their corporate knowledge and PR and we are doing the behind the scenes stuff.”
He said lack of the finance was identified as the key hurdle to getting a new business off the ground.
“Most of the businesses we are helping struggle to get off the ground without this finance,” he added. “So we are giving them the best possible start.
“We have got £10m to spend initially, and in the east we would expect to help more than 250 new businesses in the next year.”
As well as the Cavendish Consortium, the scheme has been backed by entrepreneur James Caan and the co-founder of Innocent Drinks Richard Reed, who will also help mentor fledgling firms.
Nick Fox, director of Virgin Start-up, said: “Part of the reason we wanted to invest in this project is because we want to create a culture of entrepreneurship – and this investment will help bring the quality of our entrepreneurs up.”
Sir Richard Branson said: “Virgin StartUp is pleased to be working in partnership with NWES, the leading enterprise agency in the country.
“NWES’s experience as a delivery partner of the Start-Up Loans Company and its expertise in providing early stage businesses advice, combined with the Virgin brand and our companies support, will be crucial in securing the success of many young entrepreneurs.”
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.