Funding for Young Entrepreneurs – What is Available?

Young entrepreneurs are the future of the British economy, and funding bodies are keen to recognise that. Read on for eight schemes that are focused on funding young people, including students and recent graduates.


Bright Ideas Trust





Age range: 16-30

Awards: Support and up to £25,000 startup loan

Requirements: Be unemployed or from a disadvantaged background

The Bright Ideas Trust provides support to young people who are unemployed, not in education or training or come from disadvantaged backgrounds. While they don’t give grants, they do offer loans of up to £25,000. They also run a programme specifically for prisoners who are interested in starting their own businesses after serving time.


Enterprise Nation Student Start-up of the Year




Age range: N/A

Awards: £2,500, year of free office space, business support

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate

The 2018 edition of Student Start-up of the Year is closed, but it’s worth bookmarking for next year. Students across the UK can apply, with 10 finalists pitching to a panel of judges. The prize includes a year of free office space.

Read more: Student Start-up of the Year


The Mayor’s Entrepreneur




Age range: N/A

Awards: Three £20,000 prizes

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate of a London university

If you have a business idea that would improve London, and you are either a student or graduated since December 2017, you can apply for funding from the Mayor of London. Your idea will focus on tech, the environment or the creative industries. Applications are open until 17 February 2019.

Learn more: Mayor of London


The Prince’s Trust Enterprise Programme




Age range: 18-30

Awards: Free business course and two years’ mentoring; grants depend on circumstances

Requirements: Be resident in the UK

If you’re aged 18 to 30, live in the UK and have a business idea, this may be the programme for you. The Prince’s Trust have a plethora of resources and run an intensive four day course for budding businesspeople. If you can’t attend the four day workshop, you can take it online. Once you launch, you’ll have access to an experienced business mentor for two years.

Funding is available in special circumstances; the Trust also offers low interest loans of up to £5,000.

Learn more: The Prince’s Trust


Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards


Age range: N/A

Awards: A share of £90,000 plus mentoring

Requirements: Be a student or recent graduate of a partner university

Another great opportunity for students or recent graduates, Santander run an annual pitching competition for seed funding and business support. They are currently partnered with 80 universities, so there is a good chance that yours will be represented.

Read more: Santander Enterprise


Shell LiveWIRE



Age range: 16-30

Awards: £5,000 prize for one winner every month

Requirements: Restricted to green energy and resources

If your business idea relates to the environment, energy and resources, Shell may be your best bet. Every month the Smarter Future programme awards £5,000 to a young entrepreneur, with an annual prize of £25,000 for the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Learn more: Shell LiveWIRE UK






Age range: 16 or older

Awards: £500-£15,000 grants

Requirements: Must be a social venture

UnLtd supports ventures that improve the community in some way – for example, making a donation with every sale. Particularly likely to be funded are startups that address the ageing population, underserved areas or access to employment.

Learn more: UnLtd


vInspired Cashpoint




Age range: 14-30, but it depends on the project

Awards: Up to £500 grant plus support

Requirements: Must benefit the community

Youth charity vInspired run themed Cashpoints for community projects, awarding grants of up to £500. If your idea has a clear benefit for your local area, this programme is for you.



Looking for more funding? These seven initiatives are offering funding to female entrepreneurs.


Why Would Young Entrepreneurs Need a Loan?

Loans are often necessary when starting up a business, particularly if the founder is a young entrepreneur who doesn’t have the money to fund the venture entirely by themselves.

Loans can be very useful, and sometimes necessary, to get a business up and running. They can help to fund key operations vital for its success and further growth. These key operations can include:

  • Funding for employee wages
  • Funding for new equipment
  • Funding for an office
  • Funding for development of the business’s products/services
  • Funding for geographical expansion of the business  

Loans can provide support to young entrepreneurs wanting to turn their business venture dreams into a reality. As listed above, there are a whole host of different funding options available to this community, helping the future generation of CEOs and co-founders make their mark in the working world.


What Are the Benefits of a Loan for Young Entrepreneurs?

The main benefit to be had from taking out a loan for young entrepreneurs is that it helps to, as previously mentioned, take your business idea and turn it into a reality. There are a range of different loans, including those listed above, that have been built specifically to help young, promising entrepreneurs build up their businesses.

These types of loans can also be used for various different purposes, and accessed by founders from various backgrounds – e.g. Bright Ideas Trust offers both support and a startup loan of up to £25,000 for entrepreneurs who are unemployed or from disadvantaged backgrounds, whilst Enterprise Nation Student Start-up of the Year awards £2,500 as well as business support and a year of free office space to students or recent graduates of all different ages.


How to Get a Loan for Young Entrepreneurs

As there are a range of different loans for young entrepreneurs, how you acquire one will vary drastically, depending upon the loan type and the provider. For example, whilst the Enterprise Nation Student Start-up of the Year funding does not have any age requirements for applicants, others do, including hell LiveWIRE (16-30 years old) and vInspired Cashpoint (14-30 years old) to name a few of the many.

Additionally, acquiring a startup loan as a young entrepreneur will also depend upon the nature of the business venture, and whether it fits into the funding requirements for providers. Whilst some will simply require the founder to be young, others only offer certain funds to startups focused on a specific area (e.g. hell LiveWIRE requires startups to be in the green energy and resources potential sector).