200 new firms get helping hand from UK Steel fund

MORE than 200 new businesses have been established across South Yorkshire over the last 18 months with financial support from Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.

Local business advisors praised the Kickstart scheme which has provided small grants and loans to help new enterprises get off the ground.

“It has been a fantastic scheme,” commented RIDO business advisor Bob Langley. “The UK Steel Enterprise Kickstart Grant and Loan Fund has, as the name suggests, given a massive kickstart to those budding entrepreneurs wishing to set up their own businesses.

“At the very outset of the business such support has undoubtedly helped many who would otherwise not have started. Total funding delivered of over £100,000 has been able to assist 162 businesses in Rotherham alone with support ranging from vital equipment purchase to marketing materials. Through their generosity UK Steel Enterprise has enabled many business dreams to become reality.”

Altogether 223 businesses have received funding from UK Steel Enterprise, taken up by people starting a wide variety of businesses, such artist Stephen Smith; Adrian Thrower who opened up the caravan maintenance market, and Jenny Bazeley who started her own equestrian business in Stocksbridge.

Other recipients have included Vanessa Linley, a student at Sheffield University who is developing a waterproof, breathable bandage for pets and Marie Larkin Smith who, having qualified in foot health, set up as a foot care nurse.

UK Steel Enterprise regional manager Keith Williams said, “We hoped when we started this scheme that it would be successful, but we did not realise how successful! There has been a steady demand from new entrepreneurs across South Yorkshire, especially from Rotherham.

“Our core business is providing development finance for established companies which might need up to £750,000 to help with growth plans, but providing small amounts of cash to help new businesses get off the ground has proved not just a sound investment but has also been very encouraging and rewarding. We hope these new businesses will, in time, grow. Even if they all just employed one person, that job creation would be significant.

“It is often difficult for small businesses to raise finance, especially over the last couple of years. We recognised this and decided to do something about it to help the local economy. We’re very pleased with the results.”