A government-backed programme has provided a significant financial support to London-based entrepreneurs from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds.
New figures show that almost half of all loans from the government-backed Start Up Loans scheme have gone to BAME entrepreneurs since 2012.
In total, the programme has lent over £50m to ethnic minority entrepreneurs in the capital.
The Start Up Loans scheme provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000 at a 6% fixed interest rate per annum and offers free dedicated mentoring and support to each business.
The aim of the Start Up Loans scheme is to ensure that viable start-ups and early-stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need in order to thrive.
Among the BAME entrepreneurs who have benefitted from the loans to start her business is Jacqueline Hall, from Rainham in Havering,.
After being made redundant and then turned down from various job interviews, she decided to switch careers and pursue her dream of becoming a life coach.
Pursuing a dream
Inspired by her love of people and listening to their problems, Hall used a £2,500 Start Up Loan to launch DALE Coaching, her own online mentoring company offering development and career coaching.
The business has since expanded to include family business leadership team facilitation and a consortium with other female entrepreneurs that hosts workshops and learning sets and encourages women into STEM related careers.
Hall said: “After the employment struggles I faced I never thought I’d have been able to launch my own business, but the initial loan I received from Start Up Loans was the kickstart I needed.
“My story shows that if you believe in your idea and have the tenacity and determination to succeed, then anything is possible. Of course there are hurdles on the way, but I’ve felt supported in facing them.”
Michaela Alexander, from Bow, Tower Hamlets, also used a Start Up Loans to help start her business. She took out a £10,000 loan in 2016 to write and launch her own children’s book series, Miles & Mia, named after her own two children, after she noticed a lack of ethnic diversity in children’s story books.
Following the success of Michaela’s first book, Miles & Mia A-Z, which won two gold awards for Best Children’s Book at the Junior Design Award and the Mumii Family Awards, Alexander has focused her time on championing diversity in literature and will launch a second book next year.
A demanding but brilliant journey
She said: “I feel very lucky that I have been able to harness two very important passions in my life, my children and the need for more diversity in children’s books, to make my dream of writing my own books come true.
“I was completely new to running a small business and self-publishing a book. It has been a demanding but brilliant journey, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without the initial funding and support from Start Up Loans.”
Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which funds the project, said: “I want the UK to be the best place in the world to work and start a business, and the success achieved by entrepreneurs like Jacqueline and Michaela is an inspiration. It is fantastic to see that almost half of Start Up Loans in London have been awarded to people from ethnic minority backgrounds. With the new year starting, now is a great time to start hatching business plans.
“The government-owned British Business Bank offers a range of support to aspiring business owners to help make those plans a reality.”