Nicholas Dear, Director of Outcomes and Strategy at Start-Up Loans talks to Third Sector Careers Content Editor, Antje Derks, about the company, the role and the person they are looking to fill it.
Tell me about The Start Up Loans Company.
The Start Up Loans Company is a government-funded initiative that provides start up support in the form of a repayable loan together with a business mentor and support for entrepreneurs across the UK.
Lord Young – who came up with the scheme –realised that if entrepreneurialism was as entrenched into the British mentality as it is in the United States, we would potentially have 900,000 more jobs across the country. With high unemployment, and the job market in a tough position, self-employment is being seriously considered as a viable career path.
With this logic in mind, The Start Up Loans programme was created within The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, which is headed up by The Secretary of State, Vince Cable. It was designed to go some way to help solve the problem of supporting people who have a feasible business idea but no access to finance. With a view to providing a robust SME sector of tomorrow, The Start Up Loans programme aims to equip enterprising individuals with the tools needed to make their businesses a success.
How has The Start Up Loans Company grown since its inception?
In May 2012, Lord Young approached James Caan to take on the role of Chairman of The Start Up Loans Company. Since then, we have grown to a team of over 50 full-time employees, managing everything from strategic decisions to financial management, through to communications and everything in between.
James Caan and Prime Minister, David Cameron
However, we don’t work alone. The Start Up Loans Company operates through a network of Delivery Partners across the country that supports entrepreneurs in all industries and sectors. We also receive support from Corporate Partners, who offer business benefits to our entrepreneurs.
So far, we have been very successful. By the end of the pilot period in March 2013, The Start Up Loans Company had exceeded all expectations, finishing under budget yet over target. Securing further funding from Government indicated both the appetite for entrepreneurship and the feasibility of the scheme.
Who can apply for a Start Up Loan?
So far The Start Up Loans Company has helped in excess of 20,000people realise their dream to start and run their own business. We have lent around £100,000, 000 to people who would otherwise not have managed to get their venture off the ground.
Anyone over the age of 18 who is unable to access funding through traditional channels is eligible. All our loan recipients also have access to a business mentor to help support them on their start up journey, as we believe mentoring is as important as the financial backing. Our mentors however are only available to individuals who have taken out a Start Up Loan.
On average we lend between £5,000 and £6,000 per person, although we can lend up to £25,000in exceptional circumstances. The loans are personal, unsecured debt, which means if there is more than one founder in a business, they are each eligible take out an individual loan.
Tell me about the Head of Business Support role you are recruiting for
The Head of Business Support will be responsible for ensuring that loan recipients receive effective support, to maximise their chances of success. This aim is at the heart of the programme. Some individuals may have a well thought through idea, together with a detailed business plans and cash flows. Others may simply have an ambition to be their own boss. The Company must deliver appropriate support to all.
Following a recent re-organisation, business support is now a dedicated team within the operations department. The jobholder will have overall responsibility for ensuring the support that every loan recipient receives is appropriate and effective. By responding to loan recipient feedback and evidence-based results, the jobholder will develop the Company’s on-going support strategy to ensure it meets the overall programme aims.
The team currently consists of four job roles covering mentoring and training. It is expected that team will grow and develop as the programme evolves.
By working with other teams, the successful candidate will also be responsible for ensuring that appropriate infrastructures for a programme of this size are in place to support loan recipients.
What sort of a person might apply?
This is a challenging new role, so we are looking for a ‘doer’ – someone who works well under pressure and with minimal guidance. We are not a corporate organization, which means there are not reams of proceedures or structures that need to be adhered to.
We have a start-up mentality, which means we all pull together to drive innovation and the business forward. The successful candidate will work with a very diverse range of stake holders, so will need to be diplomatic.
Ideally, the candidate is already in a senior position, with plenty of strategic experience. We are looking for someone with large-scale project management experience, since this role will be UK wide and will have a major impact on the UK economy.
Furthermore, the successful candidate will need to possess a real ability to drive this project forward – lead a team and implement strategies towards mentoring and training for loan applicants.
Finally, what are the benefits of working at The Start Up Loan Company?
We are a young organisation that is innovative, hard working and not at all corporate. Working with us is an enjoyable experience because everyone is genuinely committed to the cause and all work well together. We like to keep things politics-free. The programme is very high profile, so you will be involved in something that has a lot of attention. The salary on offer is between £50,000 and £55,000. We give you an initial 25 days holiday per year, with an extra day for every year at the company up to 30 days. We also contribute to your pension.
So, if you think you might have what it takes to be our new Head of Business Support, apply now.