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Start or grow your women-led business

Every business needs initial capital to start. Sadly, some businesses can find it difficult to access the finance they need to begin or expand. This is true of businesses owned by women.

Many women struggle with gaining access to mainstream banks and financial services. This barrier can stem from a variety of factors, including location, lack of networking opportunities, or previous financial disparities.

Thankfully, there's a way to level the playing field. For women business founders, a Start Up Loan is often the stepping stone to bridging the gap between potential and success.

To date, Start Up Loans have supported 110,699 businesses, with over 40% of those being owned by women.

What is a Start Up Loan?

Whether you're just starting to shape your business idea or you're looking to grow your start-up, securing a Start Up Loan can help you flourish while contributing to the prosperity and resilience of your local community.

Key Features:

  • For: Businesses trading less than 36 months.
  • Loan amount: Borrow up to £25,000 (BEF average loan size = £11,000).
  • Interest rates: 6% fixed. Take advantage of a low interest rate to help start or grow your business.
  • Repayment terms: Enjoy flexible repayment options spanning 1 to 5 years.
  • One Business, Four Loans: Up to four partners or directors can each apply for a Start-Up Loan for the same business.
  • Additional benefits: Take advantage of no arrangement fees, no early repayment fees, and up to 12 months of complimentary post-loan mentoring

I am a woman and a business owner, can I get a Start Up Loan?

Yes, you can. Start Up Loans are available to aspiring and existing business owners regardless of ethnicity, gender, and religion. Accessing a Start Up Loan could help take your idea or business to the next level.

Eligibility criteria includes:

  • You’re 18 years of age or older
  • You’re a current UK resident
  • You’re starting a new business or have been trading for up to 36 months
  • You’re unable to secure finance from other sources (self-declaration is ok)
  • Your business is based in the UK
  • You have the right to work in the UK
  • Your business type and loan purpose is eligible under terms of the scheme
  • You pass the Start Up Loan Company credit checks and you can afford to repay the loan

We welcome your application >


Of course, you might have some questions. Here are some of the most common ones we get about Start Up Loans. If you have more questions, feel free to get in touch with us.

Why consider a Start Up Loan?

  • As a woman business founder in the UK, understanding and leveraging the Start Up Loan scheme can be a game-changer. It offers not just the financial backbone to support your business ambitions but also a network of guidance and advice to help steer your venture towards sustainable growth.

How can I use a Start Up Loan once approved?

  • A Start Up Loan is here to help your start-up grow, but we get that every business is different. You can generally use the loan for things like day-to-day costs, premises, equipment, stock, marketing, bringing on new team members, or other ways to build your business. Still, we suggest explaining how you plan to use the money in your application, so it matches up with what the loan is meant for.

What documents are required for a Start Up Loan application?

  • Usually, you'll need to show us your Business Plan, Cash Flow Forecast, Personal Survival Budget, and Personal Bank Statements from the last three months. Don't worry, one of our friendly Investment Managers will let you know if we need anything else from you.

Can I apply for a Start Up Loan if I have a poor credit history?

  • We look at every application carefully, considering more than just your credit history. Even if your credit isn't perfect, it doesn't mean you're out of the running. We suggest talking with an Investment Manager about your particular case to figure out the best way to move forward.

What tips do you have a Tips for a Smooth Application Process

  • Be Prepared: Have all your documents and information ready before starting the application process.
  • Be Responsive: Quickly respond to any requests for additional information or clarification.
  • Be Honest: Provide accurate and honest information throughout the process.
  • Be Proactive: Use the interview to showcase your business and address any potential concerns.

Client Testimonials

Hearing from fellow start-up owners can provide that extra dose of inspiration and confidence you need. That's why we've gathered testimonials from business owners in County Durham who have successfully utilised a Start Up Loan to elevate their businesses. Here are their stories:

I have dealt with Doug Heseltine for 7 years now and would like to say that this business would not be at the stage it is without his help and the help of BEF hopefully the business will continue to grow so credit is due to you.”
- Paul Minnikin, director, The Great North Eastern Brewing.”

Why choose BEF?

BEF is more than just a place to borrow money; we're a trusted partner who really wants you to do well. We're all about helping people get the money they need to start their dreams.

So far, we've helped over 5,000 people start their journeys with £20 million in Start Up Loan cash.

Here's what we do:

  • Tailored Support: We get that every business is different, so we fit our help to match what you need and what you're aiming for.
  • Real People Making Decisions: No cold, heartless computers here. Our friendly and experienced Investment Managers are the ones who make the call.
  • A Trusty Partner: We're here to offer you flexible money options to help you start and when grow.
  • Teaming Up: We work closely with the British Business Bank to help new businesses in the North East, the Humber, and Yorkshire.

How do I get a Start Up Loan from BEF?

Getting a Start Up Loan is a simple process:

  1. Online Application Submission
  2. Credit Check and Initial Review
  3. Business Plan and Document Assessment
  4. Interview
  5. Decision and Loan Offer
  6. Acceptance and Funding

Usually, our team of Investment Managers will help you finish everything up within six weeks after you apply.