Showcasing the Best of Welsh Business


£5m in Finance Provided to 18 to 24-year-old Entrepreneurs in Wales by the Start Up Loans Programme


Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, has announced that it has provided more than £100m worth of funding to business owners aged between 18-24 years old, equating to more than 15,000 loans since the programme launched in 2012.

£5m of the funding has been provided to more than 600 businesses founded by 18-24-year-olds in Wales.

New data also reveals that the most entrepreneurial constituencies in the region are Newport East (£306,700) followed by Swansea East and Swansea West. Each Swansea constituency received nearly £300,000 to help Gen Z business owners start up or grow their young businesses.

These are the top 5 constituencies for loans to 18 to 24-year-old entrepreneurs in Wales.

Constituency Value (£)
Newport East 306,700
Swansea East 295,390
Swansea West 286,600
Monmouth 223,700
Caerphilly 214,100


Of those to receive a Start Up Loan across the UK, the most popular industries to launch a business in include retail (£8.5m), hospitality (£5.8m) and arts and entertainment (£2.5m).

The funding milestone comes as the Start Up Loans programme launches a new information campaign aimed at students considering entrepreneurship as a career option so they can make their business dreams a reality. The advertising campaign is running across 54 UK cities including at Trinity St David, Cardiff University and Swansea University. Students simply need to scan the QR code on posters and screens around their college and university campuses and surrounding area to access the information.

Gen Z business owner supported by Start Up Loans

Louis Watkins, 23, from Newport, founded his business Clear For Men at the age of just 20. Clear For Men is a men’s mental health awareness and online skincare brand, encouraging men to ‘take five’ through their daily cleansing routine.

Young entrepreneur Louis set out to create his business after suffering from anxiety during the Covid-19 lockdowns. Working hard to incorporate more self-care into his day-to-day, he realised that a morning and evening skincare routine allowed him to pause, switch off and focus on himself for a moment. Wanting to find a way to help others who were struggling with their mental health, Louis set up Clear For Men to encourage men to prioritise their wellbeing and create a platform where men could speak openly about how they feel.

Louis applied for a £12,000 Start Up Loan shortly after establishing his business in 2022, using the funding to create and bulk buy his stock. Louis now sells his ‘Take Five’ cleansers from his website and TikTok shop, where he has built up a large following and regularly posts videos discussing mental health.

Louis, founder of Clear For Men, said:

“Being able to pursue something I was passionate about and create a business from it was a dream come true, and without the financial backing of my Start Up Loan, or the support from my family, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Suffering with my own mental health struggles, it was so important for me to be able to pass on what helped me to others. I wanted to create a quality skincare brand that cares, gives back, and breaks the stigma to get men talking. I made a commitment when I started my business to donate a portion of my sales to the mental health charity, Mind, and I’ve stuck to that, which is something I’m really proud of.”

Creating social value

New data shows that the programme’s impact has been particularly noticeable among young entrepreneurs from across the UK, with 16.5% of all loan recipients aged 18-24 being unemployed before they got their loan.

Of all the loans distributed to entrepreneurs under 25, 39% have gone to female business owners and 24% to business owners from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Susan Nightingale UK Network Director for the Devolved Nations, British Business Bank, said:

“It’s amazing to see people in their late teens and early twenties with such ‘can-do’ attitudes and motivation to achieve success in working life.

“Our £100 million funding milestone is a significant landmark and testament to the hard work of Start Up Loans and its business support partners, in giving people with a good business idea like Clear For Men, no matter their age, the chance to access the funding needed to bring it to life. We’re determined to keep backing aspirational young people with money and mentoring.”

Small Business Minister, Kevin Hollinrake, said:

“Every large firm started off as a small business and today’s aspiring young entrepreneurs could be the next success story. I urge them to explore how a Start Up Loan could launch their ambitions today.

“Through the British Business Bank, and the Help to Grow campaign, we’ve backed the next generation of business leaders with over £100 million in government backed finance and we’re not stopping there.”

The Start Up Loans programme helps people start or grow their business and is part of the government-owned British Business Bank’s remit to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. They can borrow up to £25,000 at a fixed interest rate of 6% per annum and repay the loan over one to five years. The programme also provides 12 months of free business mentoring.

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Business News Wales