A DRIVE is under way to unlock the talents of young people in the South West who could set up their own business.

Start Up Loans – part of the government-owned British Business Bank – says many more people are reconsidering their career plans because of the Covid crisis.

It has delivered more than 2,340 loans totalling more than £9.7million to unemployed people in the region since 2012. A third of those receiving government-backed funding in the region in that time were out of work.

Across the UK , more than half of those going from unemployed to starting a business with Start Up Loans were millennials – born between 1981 and 1996.

But the number of Generation Z applicants – aged 18-24 – using the scheme as a route out of unemployment doubled from 2019 to 2020.

Richard Bearman, managing director of Start Up Loans, said: “Start Up Loans is uniquely positioned to drive the nation’s investment in creative, entrepreneurial talent of any age, thanks to our extensive network of delivery partners and support services. As well as a loan, we support individuals with the practical steps they need to take to begin their own enterprise from writing business plans, accounting and marketing, as well as access to learning with partners such as the Open University.

“It is paramount that we do everything to empower the next generation of young working talent, who have an important part to play in unlocking the UK’s economic recovery, by giving them every chance to succeed, whatever their circumstances,” he added.

“Unemployment can have a catastrophic impact on an individual’s financial security, self-confidence and ability to apply for finance from lenders, and the support provided by Start Up Loans can be of particular use to younger, less experienced business owners.”

The Start Up Loans scheme was started after the 2008 crash with a remit to make business ownership a viable career for people who would struggle to raise finance.

The scheme loaned £1.58m in the South West between March 2020 and March 2021.

The Covid crisis has prompted many people to change direction because of furlough, unemployment or extra time to reflect during lockdown, Start Up Loans says.

Small business minister Paul Scully said: “This government’s Start Up Loans programme has a phenomenal track record of backing budding entrepreneurs, having helped more than 7,060 in the South West to get off the ground.

“I would encourage aspiring entrepreneurs in the South West, whether they’re young people just getting started, or experienced pros looking for a fresh start, to explore the fantastic support available from the British Business Bank.”