Start Up Berkshire Goes Live


Young people at colleges across Berkshire will be given an exciting opportunity to start their own business thanks to an innovative scheme designed to encourage young entrepreneurs.

The five further education colleges in Berkshire, Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (TVBLEP) and Fredericks Foundation are delighted to be working together to launch a brand new scheme to loan start up business funds to young people aged 17-23 who are students or recent students at each of the five colleges.

BCA, Bracknell & Wokingham College, East Berkshire College, Newbury College and Reading College will each receive £50,000 to work with Fredericks Foundation to provide loans to those students who show the most promise in running a business.

Officially launched on 18th March, the loan scheme is a new initiative and has the backing of the TVBLEP Forum, the decision making body of the LEP. The focus of the Start Up Berkshire scheme links closely to the skills agenda of the LEP and builds on the skills, education and employment programme in the LEP's Strategic Economic plan.

Potential entrepreneurs will submit an application form and then pitch their business plans to a panel of experts that will approve the level of the interest free loan, usually up to about £5,000, and based on the risks identified in setting up and successfully running the proposed business.

The five colleges are also working with employer representative groups such as the Institute of Directors who will provide mentors to the young people to support and guide them in their business ventures.

Tim Smith MBE, Chief Executive of the Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership, explains: "Thames Valley Berkshire LEP is charged with driving local economic growth. This investment aims to support the next generation of start up businesses, and complements our dedicated loan and equity fund for high growth potential SMEs, as well as our Business Growth Hub. It knits together two programmes from our Strategic Economic Plan, which aim to drive enterprise and to create employment."

A group of young painting and decorating students from East Berkshire College in Langley are set to be the first to apply for the new scheme in order to set up their mural painting business. If successful in securing a loan, their business will look to provide specialist painting services to private customers and businesses, who are looking for bespoke designs for their premises.

Kate Webb, Principal of East Berkshire College, said: "Innovation is key for local economic growth and the Start Up Berkshire initiative is a fantastic way to inspire and develop young entrepreneurs. We already have students with impressive business ideas wishing to apply for the scheme, so we are looking forward to working with local employers and the LEP to help these ambitious young people realise their aspirations."

The Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is committed to building a world class workforce and ensuring the next generation of Thames Valley residents is equipped for the future workplace, which forms a key component of the Thames Valley Berkshire Strategic Economic Plan

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