Start-up loans an answer to the funding impasse facing SMEs
To kick-start the economy and get back on the road to recovery, we shouldn't look to large corporations, but to the entrepreneurs and small businesses that are braving the storm and starting up.
Half of all jobs in the UK come from small and medium businesses – if we're to get our economy going again, we must do all we can to support them.
However, what I hear time and time again is just how difficult it is to get banks to part with their cash and support the businesses that will create jobs at a time when they're needed most. It's a shame, but asking for help from the bank manager is no longer feasible in the current climate.
The Start-Up Loans programme is an answer to this impasse, providing our entrepreneurs with financial backing and encouraging young people to view enterprise as a viable career path. The scheme was launched last year, with the government providing young people across England with the financial support they need to get their business off the ground. Last week, it was announced that the scheme is to be extended to Northern Ireland. I established School for Startups to help get young people to start thinking about getting into business. As one of the government's leading delivery partners through our Launcher initiative, there's no doubt this will help put Northern Ireland on the entrepreneurial map.
Making a firm commitment to support the next generation of entrepreneurs will demonstrate an optimistic outlook that is the bedrock of every successful economy. The scheme will be a massive source of jobs in Northern Ireland, creating more businesses and allowing others to expand.
I can't wait to see where we'll be this time next year and the impact this will have on our local economic growth. Watch this space.
Doug Richard is founder of School for Startup