Richard Branson launches nationwide funding and mentoring service for young entrepreneurs
Start Up Loans Company and leading business owners back Virgin StartUp initiative
Sir Richard Branson has unveiled Virgin StartUp, a new not-for profit company which will provide financial support, mentoring and business advice to young entrepreneurs across the UK.
With funding for start-ups as its central focus, the initiative has partnered with the Start Up Loans Company who will facilitate loans to those looking to launch a business between the ages of 18-30.
Launched in Shoreditch’s tech centre Box Park with supporting entrepreneurs James Caan and Innocent Drinks co-founder Richard Reed in attendance, Branson discussed how resources will be drawn from his other Virgin UK businesses to promote the scheme.
Working in collaboration with enterprise agency Cavendish Consortium together with the National Enterprise Network, it’s intended that the initiative will utilise Virgin Group sub-divisions such as Virgin Money and Virgin Media to provide young entrepreneurs with access to mentors, business advice and space for networking and promotional events.
The new initiative will be fronted by former head of enterprise at The Prince’s Trust, Mel Shui, along with Sir Tom Shebbeare, ex-chief executive of The Prince’s Trust and current chair of Virgin Money Giving, who has joined the company’s board in an advisory capacity.
The launch follows the success of an earlier pilot programme that ran exclusively in the North East from October 2012 which used Virgin Money’s services to deliver start-up loans.
Virgin StartUp will look to build on the pilot, with claims that it has already financed over 100 businesses with £600,000 funding.
Commenting on the launch Branson utilised his own start-up experience:
“I started my first business with a handful of coins out of a phone-box at school, but it was the £300 from my mum that really kick-started our student magazine and sparked the Virgin adventure 40 years ago.
“Today, young people need [support] and I believe Virgin StartUp will provide it – with access to early capital, strong mentorship, advice and promotion.”
Start Up Loans company founder Lord Young added: “I look forward to [Virgin StartUp] playing an important part in the Start Up Loans programme and transforming and enriching the lives of many and giving them a chance to fulfil their aspirations.”