Start Up Loans passes £750m funding milestone, delivering more than 85,000 loans across the UK

Ong Ong Buns

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans (SUL) programme has announced it has passed a major milestone of £750 million worth of loans, delivering more than 85,500 loans since its launch in 2012.

Over the last year alone, the government-backed programme has issued £173.2m of loans to 11,408 people across the UK, as many entrepreneurs took the pandemic as an opportunity to launch or scale up their first enterprise. This represents a significant year on year increase of 33% against the same period in 2019/20.

Of the people who received a loan since 2012, two fifths were women. One in five recipients were people from ethnic minorities, of which 9% were from Black ethnic groups, 5% from Asian ethnic groups and 4% from mixed ethnic groups. 30% of all loan recipients were unemployed when they applied for the loan, showing the scheme’s value to disadvantaged communities.

The recipient of the 750 millionth pound from the Start Up Loans programme was 39-year-old Aaron Mo, from Bermondsey, London. Aaron took out a loan of £25,000 after leaving his role as a Policy Analyst for the London Assembly to launch a pop-up Chinese bakery called Ong Ong Buns at 122 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London.

He used the loan to buy catering equipment, raw ingredients stock and the rent deposit. Ong Ong Buns is thought to be the first Chinese bakery and café in London and is one of only a few bricks-and-mortar shops in the capital that sells Chinese baked goods outside Chinatown and Chinese supermarkets.

Aaron Mo, Founder of Ong Ong Buns said: “Lockdown made me re-evaluate what was important to me and gave me the opportunity to become my own boss, which has always been a dream of mine. My wife is a Chinese Malaysian and moved to London last year. We’re both big foodies, but since moving here my wife has craved sweet Chinese snacks and avoids eating Western sandwiches and baked goods.

“This made me realise there is a gap in the market for convenience food for typical Chinese tastebuds. That’s when my wife and I decided to launch Ong Ong Buns to bring some of our passion for Chinese food to the heart of London.

“Start Up Loans’ was the right place for me to apply for a loan mainly because of the wider support available through the scheme, as well as the fact that it’s a trusted government-backed entity. I’d encourage any aspiring enterprise owner to take a look and see if it could help them in their journey towards becoming their own boss.”

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “Providing £750 million worth of funding to new businesses across the UK is a huge milestone for the Start Up Loans programme, particularly given the challenges businesses have faced during the pandemic.

“We are delighted to support investment in small businesses across the UK via this government-backed programme and we continue to applaud the incredible resilience that businesses and business owners have shown.

“Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to business owners, entrepreneurial spirit has not dwindled, and we look forward to continuing to support the small business community to recover by providing further investment and mentoring support. We are proud to see Aaron taking his first steps into business through Ong Ong Buns, and we wish him every success in his new venture.”

The Start Up Loans programme provides loans, mentoring and support to existing and aspiring business owners across the UK, helping support the Build Back Better agenda to bring prosperity to areas of deprivation and to people who may otherwise find it difficult to secure financial support.