Woodworker Will is named among British Business Bank's start up loans ambassadors

Will Smith, founder of Woodwork by Will in Comber

BESPOKE furniture company Woodwork by Will in Comber among 12 SMEs selected as champions of UK start-ups by Start Up Loans, which part of the British Business Bank.

Its newly-named Northern Ireland ambassador Will Smith took out two loans totalling £6,000 to launch his business in January last year and follow an ambition of making his creations available for others to buy.

The support he received to invest in essential machinery, including a table saw, enabled the company to increase its capacity and take on larger projects earlier than expected.

Since 2012 the Start Up Loans programme has delivered more than 88,000 loans, providing £790 million of funding.

In Northern Ireland alone, 1,367 loans have been processed totalling £11,183, 564, which is an average of £8,181 per small business.

Will was among 12 Start Up Loans ambassadors honoured at a virtual event attended by UK Small Business minister Paul Scully and British Business Bank chair Lord Smith, at which the keynote address was delivered by leading UK entrepreneur Jo Fairley, co-founder of Green & Black's Chocolate.

Minister Scully said: “Start Up Loans are a vital pillar in our efforts to level up every part of the country and offer opportunities to hard-working, dynamic people regardless of their background.

“From canned wine to woodwork, bridalwear to camel milk, this year's Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the incredible diversity and creativity of entrepreneurship across the UK and will spearhead our mission to make the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.”

Richard Bearman, managing director at Start Up Loans, added: “The small business community has been through a disrupted and challenging year, making it all the more important that we celebrate and champion the sector.

“The breadth and diversity of this year's Start Up Loans ambassadors demonstrates that, with the right support and mentoring, aspiring business owners from all walks of life can thrive in the most challenging circumstances.”

And Jo Fairley from Green & Black's said: “When you're starting a business, it really helps to have champions in the forms of mentors and skill support, who can not only help keep your passion blazing, but bring their wisdom and financial insights to helping you power your business forward.

“It's so great to see the British Business Bank formalise this in a positive way, via the team of 2021/2022 ambassadors, who can use the lessons from their success to empower and inspire the next round of great UK start-ups.”

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