The importance of role models in business

As well as offering finance, the programme aims to motivate and inspire budding entrepreneurs who are thinking about pursuing an idea of their own

The importance of role models in business

To make that jump into the unknown, people need to be able to hear about success stories, relate to others’ routes to the common goal of entrepreneurship, and have a role model to learn from.

Each year we appoint 12 Start Up Loans Ambassadors, one from each UK region and Devolved Nation, to help inspire the next generation of business founders. They all have different stories, different passions and different journeys to success, but all are great exemplars of the tenacity required to start and run your own business.

Below, I’d like to highlight some of our new Ambassadors,  who really show the breadth of the variety of businesses we support under the programme.

Anav, founded by Pallavi Ghosh

Anav is an ecommerce website that sells natural and handcrafted homewares, based in Milton Keynes. Before founding Anav in April 2021, Pallavi worked as finance managerat a large supermarket chain. The pandemic led her to pursue the career she had always wanted, so Pallavi took out a loan of £19,000 to launch Anav. 

The business was inspired by her mother, who instilled a keen eye for quality and timeless home accessories in Pallavi from a young age. She now sources goods by rural artisans from around the world, drawing inspiration from her mother’s unwavering passion for home decor and sustainability.  

Talking about founding her business, Pallavi said: “I founded Anav in the middle of my life journey, after I decided to follow my true passion. The roots of my inspiration trace back to my beloved mother. My determination was further fuelled by my years of experience working in luxurious 5-star hotels and the iconic Liberty of London. 

“I used the loan to purchase stock and cover initial expenses like warehouse space. I also made the most of the mentoring offered by Start Up Loans, regularly bouncing ideas off a mentor and staying in touch via regular calls. I hope to show people that it’s never too late to chase your dream.”

Metahelios, founded by Dr Charles Altuzarra and Dr Yash Shah

Metahelios is a specialist in advanced camera technology for space, based in Glasgow. The founders, Dr Charles Altuzarra and Dr Yash Shah, each received a £25,000 loan in July 2022 to kickstart the business. 

The entrepreneurs have created a first-of-its-kind, long-distance camera that can manipulate light to distinguish between a range of materials from a still image. They are aiming to deploy the technology into space on a rocket from one of the UK’s spaceport sites, capturing data via a satellite that can be used to monitor climate change and orbiting space debris.

Dr Charles Altuzarra, co-founder of Metahelios said: “We’re making significant progress in taking our cameras to the next stage and proving the capabilities of our technology – and we’re currently in the process of raising equity funding. The advice we’ve received from some of the industry’s biggest names has been nothing short of inspiring, and we’ve got ambitious plans to be at the forefront of the UK’s space race. 

“The loans Yash and I received were instrumental, as they allowed us to invest in manufacturing and testing prototypes. We wouldn’t be where we are today without the initial support we received through the Start Up Loans programme, and we hope the British Business Bank continues to invest in space start-ups which are working to deliver a range of benefits to our planet.” 

Lunia 3D, founded by Ken Pearce and Yousef Ahmed

Lunia 3D has scaled up from a garden shed hobby in Cowbridge, South Wales, to a large-scale 3D printing firm. Since the beginnings in the garden, Lunia 3D has attracted a range of commissions; from lifesaving military equipment for the Ministry of Defence; to a full-scale car prototype for self-driving testing, and a large bespoke shopfront display for a high-end jeweller in Mayfair, London.

Secondary school friends Ken Pearce and Yousef Ahmed, both 26 and from Newport, reunited after a decade, to combine their skills and launch the business in 2020. The pair have since taken out £14,000 in loans establishing Lunia 3D as a key player on the flourishing 3D printing stage.

Ken Pearce, co-founder of Lunia 3D said: “We’re really excited for what the next stage in our business will bring. As well as continuing with commissions and production, we’re really enjoying being able to teach others the skills that we’ve developed. At this stage of our business, we’re also really happy to be involved in the Ambassador programme as we know first-hand what a Start Up Loan can do to help get a business off the ground. We just hope our story can inspire others to consider pursuing their own business idea.”

Eagle Divers NI, founded by Zee Azab

Zee Azab is originally from the Egyptian holiday resort of Sharm El-Sheikh but fell in love with Northern Ireland during a trip to visit his wife’s family. He founded Eagle Divers NI after a drive along the Causeway Coast:

“On our second day in Northern Ireland we took a drive along the Causeway Coast and I was already looking for locations which would make great dive sites. I knew immediately that I wanted to live here. Northern Ireland’s coastline is a treasure trove of great sites to explore — even if the waters are a little colder. There is such a rich maritime history here with so much to explore under the water.”

Small businesses and founders like Pallavi, Charles and Yash, Ken and Yousef and Zee form the backbone of Start Up Loans and what we do. They serve as inspiration to existing and aspiring business owners and showcase the breadth of businesses that our loans are able to support. We are delighted that they have accepted the roles as Start Up Loans Ambassadors and I wish them the best of luck as they continue to grow and scale up their companies. 

Richard Bearman
Richard Bearman

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