Under a new government initiative driven by Enterprise advisor Lord Young, former Dragon Mr Caan will distribute of £82.5m in small £2,500 loans to 18-24 year olds wanting to start a fledgling business.
Lord Young has founded an organisation called StartUp Loans, which Mr Caan chairs.
18-24 year olds will have access to an average of £2,500 to ignite their own ‘start up’ – a phrase commonly heard these days, especially in the vast realm of technology and internet companies clustered around the Silicon Roundabout in Shoreditch, London.
Every recipient of the loan will be provided with a mentor who will provide guidance, a sounding board and networks to help the young entrepreneur along their way.
Caan was chosen by the Government because of his alleged expertise in enterprise in the UK, and specifically because he is seen by Lord Young to have a passion and motivation to ensure young people are able to succeed in creating and running their own businesses.
On appointing Caan as chairman of the board of StartUp Loans, Lord Young said: “James Caan is … someone who gets things done, and with him as chairman of StartUp Loans, I am confident that we will be able to kick-start the businesses of many young entrepreneurs contributing to a new generation of successful and growing UK small firms. ”
Commenting on StartUp Loans and how it will operate, Caan expressed his desire to treat the allocation of funds in exactly the same way as an investment: “Those who we have selected on the board are all experts in delivering results. Every individual has their own area of responsibility.”
Board members joining StartUp Loans include the following:
- John Spence OBL DL, chair of the Spicehaart Group
- David Hutchison, CEO of Social Finance
- Julie Meyer, CEO of Adriane Capital
- Roland Rudd, founder of Finsbury Communications
- Bev James, CEO of The Academy Group (which includes to Entrepreneur’s Business Academy)
- Duncan Cheatle, founder of The Prelude Group and co-founder of StartUp Britain
- Jonathan Jenkins, CEO of The Social Investment Business
- Philip King FICM, former CEO of The Institute of Credit Management
As one commentator put it, “between them, the board will certainly know who to show the door.”
Pessimism aside, the Government hopes that young people will come forward and take advantage of the money on offer. Focusing on small businesses is seen as essential to the health of the UK economy, because as has been seen with the likes of Facebook, Zynga, Pinterest, Ebay and Spotify, every successful business starts small and they need help to move from walking into running.
Board member Julie Meyer commented, “The best way to solve unemployment is to create employment. Loans are better than grants as they train the recipient that they are an investment in them, and an expectation is in place.”
Bev James, board director responsible for mentoring says: “The mentors are a critical part of the programme. We aren’t just providing cash, but intelligent capital – a combination of money and expertise, essential to ensuring a greater chance of success in your business.”