Weekend Box takes overall prize at Start Up Loans’ “Big Competition” 2014

2014 Startups Awards finalist The Yorkshire Meatball Company regional winner at awards which celebrated programme’s “hugely insipring” loan recipients

A Newcastle subscription activity box service for children, Weekend Box, has been announced as the the overall winner of Start Up Loans’ “Big Competition 2014”, at an awards ceremony held at City Hall this morning.

Presented by Start Up Loans chairman and former Dragon James Caan, alongside minister of state for the department for business and enterprise Matthew Hancock, the awards looked to celebrate some of the scheme’s “hugely inspiring” loan recipients which had gone on to grow sustainable, successful start-ups.

Launched in 2013, Newcastle-based Weekend Box designs fortnightly activity boxes for kids aged four to six which include something to make, something to eat, something green and something creative. It won the “Start Up of the Year Award” for its growth having sold over 17,000 boxes to date with a team of eight employees.

Alongside the overall prize, regional awards were granted to a range of early-stage businesses including Startups Awards Restaurant of the Year 2014 finalist The Yorkshire Meatball Company, vodka specialist Heroes Drinks, and branding agency Zeal Creative, amongst others.

Launched in 2012 by Lord Young, the Start Up Loans Company provides funding of up to £10,000 to entrepreneurs looking to start a successful business.

Funded by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (DBIS), the scheme was originally only available to those aged 18-30 but last year this age cap was removed, making entrepreneurs of all ages eligible.

At the ceremony, Caan announced that the programme has facilitated loans to over 20,000 UK businesses, averaging £6,000 per loan, with over £113m lent to date.

Caan also said that, of the entrepreneurs and businesses which had received loans, 27% had already started trading internationally, and over 30% had previously been unemployed reflecting how the programme “is helping to create jobs UK-wide”.

Matthew Hancock commented on the programme:

“We have a goal to make Britain the best place to start and grow a business and the Start Up Loans programme is going some way to support that goal.

“Let us help make sure that Start Up Loans will change the nature of entrepreneurship so that everyone who has that idea can turn it into a reality.”

Caan added: “As chairman I’m really proud of what we have achieved. […]This scheme would not have been possible without the support of government.”

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