It has never been tougher to get a new business off the ground, with traditional forms of funding all but cut off. Now, however, perhaps the most famous entrepreneur in Britain, Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, is determined to change the landscape with Virgin StartUp loans for the next generation of business leaders.
Branson famously started his empire from home and, against the odds, with no funding built a business empire that now spans the world of music, telecommunications and internet, finance, air and even space travel. But the serial entrepreneur has campaigned for more support for startup business for years and now he is putting his own money where his mouth is. Anyone under the age of 31 with a British visa is eligible to apply for the loans and PNE, the company that has partnered with Virgin Money and Virgin Unite to distribute the funds, has already allocated more than £600,000.
“For many years I have campaigned for more focus on small business and start ups as the way to get growth in the economy and to create more jobs,” said Branson. “This needs to be backed by more bank lending and start up loans for entrepreneurs.”
The funding isn’t just for a startup business either, companies that wish to expand can apply for funding, and the other benefits of the Virgin StartUp programme. A business mentor is part of the deal and Virgin has partnered with the Cavendish Consortium, which has bases throughout England and Scotland, to ensure that the startup business receives local advice and support.
It’s still not easy to succeed in the depths of a recession, but Branson’s programme should at least make it possible for some to go against the grain and make a go of their business. If Sir Richard himself is prepared to back your startup business, it stands a better chance than most.