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New type of Start-Up Loan for budding entrepreneurs in the North East and Cumbria


  • A new ‘Lean Start-Up Loan’ has launched to give start-ups greater choice and flexibility
  • Aimed at those who need a small amount of money to progress their business idea
  • Up to £500 available for market research
  • Up to £1,000 available to help take the initial step and begin trading

The Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria has expanded its range of business loans to further assist young entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30.

Launched at Virgin Money’s operational headquarters at Gosforth, Newcastle in November last year, the scheme has awarded more than £400,000 to fledgling businesses across the region, with an average loan size of around £5,000. The consortium running the scheme in the region has now launched a smaller loan option called the Lean Start-Up Loan. This provides the opportunity to lend up to £500 for developing business ideas and testing the market; or up to £1,000 to help small businesses begin trading.

Richard Clark, Director of Workspace at Project North East (PNE), explained: “As a delivery partner of the Start-Up Loans initiative, we come across a lot of individuals at different stages of their business journey and have received a number of enquiries from young people keen to explore the idea of setting up on their own, but maybe aren’t quite ready to take the plunge.

“For those who only want to borrow a small amount of money to test the market, or set up a small starter business before they can really get motoring, we've created the new Lean Start-Up Loan. It is aimed at those who need only that small amount of cash and a bit of guidance to explore whether their business idea is really going to work. It also allows time for them to develop their ideas and produce a full business plan at a later date if they want to apply for a more substantial Start-Up Loan.”

A maximum personal loan of £500 is available to those who want to test out their business idea to see if there's a market for it. A maximum of £1,000 is available for those who need a small loan to start trading. And if the business begins to take off, a full Start-Up Loan of up to £25,000 may also be available to expand further.

The Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East and Cumbria is delivered through a consortium including Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and PNE – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.

With around £600,000 of funding still to be awarded in the North East and Cumbria during 2013, all successful applicants will receive access to a host of free resources including an individual expert business mentor, online business courses and local training courses, a virtual office from Regus, reduced transaction fees from Paypal for six months, three months’ free eBay store access and no insertion fees, an e-commerce package for six months and Sage One Accounts software for 12 months.

To find out more about the new Lean Start-Up Loans, including interest rates, terms and how to apply via the Start-Up Loans scheme in the North East, young entrepreneurs should visit


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The Start-Up Loans scheme for young entrepreneurs was formally launched at Virgin Money’s Gosforth headquarters on Tuesday 20 November 2012.

Virgin Money has partnered with Virgin Unite, The Northern Rock Foundation (NRF) and Project North East (PNE) to form a consortium in the delivery of ‘Start-Up Loans’ – with PNE being the consortium partner responsible for arranging and making the loan.

The consortium also provides a training, mentoring and engagement programme, to enable unemployed young people and young people from the region’s deprived areas to learn how to run a business and to find out more about the Start-Up Loans programme.

PNE is regulated under the consumer credit act and is responsible for making the loans and administering the full lending process. PNE has nearly thirty years experience of successfully undertaking this type of work in the region, partnering organisations such as the Sainsbury family trusts and Royal Dutch Shell. More information about PNE can be found at and information on start-up loans can be found at