Scrap the loan cap? Do get me started

Illustration: Sylwia Szyszka

Illustration: Sylwia Szyszka

The recommendation by Lord Young, enterprise adviser to David Cameron, that government start-up loans should be made available to the over 30s, has been welcomed as a “lifeline” for entrepreneurs.

Charity TrainE-TraidE is known for helping members of the Jewish community find employment. It is also the only Jewish agency delivering loans to the community from the £100 million government-backed fund — Start-Up Loans — for 18 to 30-year-olds.

Shraga Zaltman, managing director, said: “Most people looking to start a business are over 30.

“We’ve had enquiries from people over 30 — but we could not lend them the money, allowing us to complete the circle.”

TrainE-TraidE, who started handing out the loans three months ago, has lent £45,000 to six businesses led by people under 30. Mr Zaltman said: “We have to lend at least another £40,000 in the next three months and we’ve been told there is plenty more.” One businessman who has received such a loan and knows how important it could now be for so many people is 28-year-old Ben Miller, a mechanic from Golders Green.

Last week he received £8,000 for his business, Auto Mobile Servicing Ltd. He said: “The start-up loan has been an unbelievable godsend.”

He explained that without any security to secure a loan, it would have been almost impossible to get investment from banks.

“My business would have been stagnant without the loan, I needed it to move forward. It’s going to be used to purchase tools, to pay rent and to fit out my new premises. Getting premises would not have been possible without the loan.

“I think lifting the age cap is a brilliant idea. I have a number of friends with businesses who are just outside that age bracket.”

TrainE-TraidE has also helped Mr Miller find a mentor and source his new premises.

Mr Zaltman said: “While money is an essential part of starting a business, understanding other aspects such as budgeting or a business model are equally important — now we can hopefully offer the full package.”

Charity representatives say they know of aspiring business figures who could benefit from the age cap being raised.

One businessman outside the current 18-30 age bracket who feels the loans could have benefitted him is 37-year-old David Mendelowitz, from Hackney, who runs insurance firm Parkhill Financial.

He said: “TrainE-TraidE got me the experience, they found my business partner and I’m part of their incubator project. What they could not do is arrange a loan.”

Without the seed money, he said: “Everything took longer. We didn’t have a website for the first six months. If we’d had a loan we could have advertised, we would have had a website, printed literature and so we would have more clients.”

He and his business partner were unable to leave their jobs without any investment capital. A loan would have given them security.

Mr Mendelowitz said that if the government takes Lord Young’s advice and extends the loans it could be transformative. “It’s an amazing opportunity,” he said.

    Last updated: 11:45am, May 27 2013