Small business is vital, PM

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Creating more small businesses like those in Lancashire is “vital” for the future of the country, Prime Minister David Cameron has told young entrepreneurs in Preston.

Mr Cameron visited the Media Factory at the University of Central Lancashire yesterday to announce an extra £30m for start-up loans for budding entrepreneurs. He told an audience of Lancashire business leaders there was no reason why the next Google or Amazon could not be launched from humble beginnings with support from the scheme.

Preston visit: Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the University of Central Lancashire

Preston visit: Prime Minister David Cameron speaking at the University of Central Lancashire

He said: “We have got some of the key advantages. We’ve got the international language of the internet and business: English. We have some of the best universities anywhere on the planet.

“We have a lot of the ingredients for being a very successful country in terms of start-ups and internet businesses. I’m enthusiastic and optimistic about what we can achieve.

“But these are tough times and we have to do everything we can to encourage that private sector growth, that small business growth.”

Mr Cameron admitted banks had to do more to help small firms, but government schemes such as this would help plug the gap for those struggling to get funding.

In a half-hour grilling from North West business leaders and young entrepreneurs, he also conceded not enough was being done to educate school children about routes into business such as apprenticeships or to give them access to valuable work experience.

Former Dragons’ Den business guru James Caan, chairman of the Start-Up Loans Company, told the audience how he started his first enterprise with only £1,000 and hoped the start-up scheme would help inspire others to have a go.

He said: “It’s not about the amount of money (you have). It’s about the quality of the idea. If you have something you are passionate about, you will make it work.”

The Start-Up Loans scheme has already handed out £1.5m to help 460 new businesses get off the ground and has now been extended to include people aged up to 30, typically borrowing about £2,500 each.

Daniel Cowell set up his own personal fitness training business in Preston with the help of one of the loans.

He said his advice for other budding entrepreneurs was: “Just go for it. Don’t wait for the opportunity to come to you, get some business advice and the funding is out there.’