Belfast Telegraph

'Dragons Den' loans boost to entrepreneurs

By James Tapsfield

Thousands more young people could get Dragons Den-style government loans to help them turn business ideas into reality, David Cameron has announced.

The Prime Minister said that funding for the coalition's Start-Up scheme was being boosted by £30m to £110m over three years.

Number 10 insisted the initiative was on target to issue more than 2,500 loans by March - despite criticism that only a few hundred worth £1.5m have been finalised since it was formally launched last autumn.

Some 3,000 people are said to have registered an interest in the money and mentoring packages, which are only available in England and through charities such as The Prince's Trust.

Those whose business plans are deemed "robust" typically receive £2,500, which can be repaid over five years at a relatively low rate of interest.

Mr Cameron said: "Start-Up loans ... are a great way to help this next generation of entrepreneurs get the financial help - and the confidence - to turn that spark of an idea into a growing, thriving business."

James Caan, a former Dragon in the BBC show and chairman of the scheme, said: "It is only with this renewed focus on youth entrepreneurship that we will create more jobs and wealth and see the economy flourish once again."