Help for young starters

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Young people in Fenland wishing to start their own business are being encouraged to apply for loans of up to £10,000 from a new government fund that supports start-ups with cash and business mentoring.

The Start-Up Loans scheme is being delivered by a number of companies, including Printing.com, as well as The Prince’s Trust charity.

Applicants must be aged under 30 and apply through one of the delivery partners, who will interview and mentor hopefuls, as well as approve loans.

The programme is backed by entrepreneur and former Dragons’ Den panelist James Caan, and is designed to help young people start their own businesses. The Government has backed it to the tune of £112m.

Tony Rafferty, chief executive of Printing.com, commented: “Our main focus will be to help young entrepreneurs from the graphic arts sector including graphic and web designers. But we want to hear from young entrepreneurs from other sectors too. Our business is partly based on a network of franchises and we already provide lots of mentoring. We know how to help people get going. As a former director of the British Franchise Association I’m also keen to get the Start-Up Loan Scheme out in the broader franchise community. We have a wealth of experience built up over many years in this area.”

James Caan, who is chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company, said: “We welcome printing.com’s involvement in the scheme and we are thrilled with the momentum the scheme continues to maintain. To be an entrepreneur is more than having a job. It gives you the freedom to make your own mark, in the way in which you choose, and create your own path to success. It can be challenging, and exceptionally hard work, but the rewards are immeasurable.”

Tony Rafferty set up Printing.com when he was 24-years old with a £3,000 loan from his father and operated the business from home. The business is now a global firm and is listed on the London Stock Exchange’s AIM market,

Mr Rafferty added: “In our sector you still really can create a business with just a Mac, Adobe’s Creative Suite and a connection to the internet – provided you can afford the hardware and software. I’m often struck the level of support available to young people going into higher education, which far exceeds the backing for young entrepreneurs taking their first steps in business.”

Printing.com hopes to help approximately 200 entrepreneurs in the next year, and the overall scheme aims to support 45,000 young business people by 2015.

In the first instance applicants should visit http://www.printing.com/entrepreneurs. Applicants are invited to submit their business plan or simply an outline of their idea. A Printing.com mentor will then get in touch and take them through the process.