Prince’s Trust grants and loans

The Prince's Trust charity organisation can be a great source of business funding for young entrepreneurs. Here's how its Enterprise Programme works...

The Prince’s Trust is a youth charity programme which was set up in 1976 by Charles, Prince of Wales to support young people. It is widely known for its start-up Enterprise Programme which offers loans, training and mentoring to help 18-30 year-old’s start their own businesses.

It provides financial help and business support for entrepreneurs in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Youth Business Scotland is a very similar scheme available for 18-30 year olds in Scotland.

Who’s eligible for Prince’s Trust grants and loans?

Applicants must be within the stated age range, have limited means and be unemployed or working less than 16 hours a week. Both Trusts are last resort funds and applicants must have been unable to obtain funding from other sources. The applicant must have a viable business idea and be able to show enough initiative and commitment to make it succeed.

Special consideration is made to help those often overlooked by established business communities such as ethnic minorities, ex-offenders, people with a disability, those living in deprived areas or in bad housing conditions, or those with limited formal education.

Loan applications won’t usually be accepted if you are a gap year student, a recent graduate (graduated less than six months ago) or have a postgraduate degree such a a Masters.

What does the Prince’s Trust offer?

Financial help

The Prince’s Trust offers start-up loans of up to £5,000. It can provide low interest loans of up to £4,000 for a sole trader and £5000 for a partnership – some people may be eligible for business grants too in special circumstances.

It offers low interest finance at a rate of around 6% APR with a typical repayment term of between one to three years. It will provide start-up business grants in special circumstances.

Business support

Both trusts allocate the businesses they help a business mentor, usually a volunteer from the local business community. They donate about four hours monthly to advise the business, provide contacts and track their progress. The monitors submit a monthly report to the Trust that provides early warning if things are going wrong. Business support managers monitor the contact between the Trust and the mentors.

How does the Prince’s Trust work?

If you want business funding, you must approach their local area office to talk about their proposal with the area manager. You must then prepare a business plan. The area manager can give help and advice with this and may even suggest taking a course. The trusts can’t offer financial help towards courses but have good contacts and usually know of cheap or free local schemes. Once the plan is complete the area manager will visit you to discuss it further.

The next step is to present the plan to a local trust board, made up of volunteers from the local business community. The board takes the opportunity to talk to you and make sure you have the knowledge and commitment to see the plan through. The board then decides whether the loan should be awarded and the sum to be awarded. If you are successful, you will receive the loan and be assigned a mentor within a couple of weeks.

Does the Prince’s Trust work?

The Prince’s Trust has supported the development of over 80,000 businesses since 1976.

Where can I go for further information about the Prince’s Trust?

Those interested in the Enterprise Programme can contact the Prince’s Trust on 080020842842 or apply for the programme online here. Alternatively job centres have details of the Prince’s Trust under training and self-employment options.

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