Virgin has announced the launch of Virgin StartUp, a not-for-profit company that will offer financial support, mentoring and business advice to thousands of young entrepreneurs across the UK.
Working with the Start-Up Loans Company as a delivery partner, Virgin StartUp will provide loans to entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30 and will also offer mentoring, marketing and media support through the Virgin network of companies.
A collaboration between Virgin, the Cavendish Consortium, which is made up of six of the largest enterprise agencies across England, and the National Enterprise Network, Virgin StartUp will also provide space to hold events.
The launch follows a successful pilot programme in the North East involving Virgin Money. This initiative, launched a year ago, is a consortium between Virgin Money, Virgin Unite, the Northern Rock Foundation and Project North East. Over the past year, it has backed more than 100 businesses and loaned £600,000.
Virgin founder, Sir Richard Branson recalled how he started his empire with a handful of coins out of a phone box at school but that it was the £300 from his mum that really kick-started the business.
He said that enterprising young people today need similar help, which he believes Virgin StartUp will provide in the form of access to early capital, strong mentorship, advice and promotion.
Commenting on the launch, Doug Richard, founder of School for Startups, said that he is delighted that Virgin is helping to support the next generation of Richard Branson’s, calling him a man who has done more to transform the image of entrepreneurship in the UK than anyone else.
However, he added, it is critical that the new firm provides more than mentoring and “freebies”, as all the evidence shows that young people also need training and support.