The Prince’s Trust charity and NatWest have launched a £5million fund to help young entrepreneurs across the UK keep their businesses afloat during the coronavirus crisis.
The Enterprise Relief Fund is available to businesspeople aged 18 to 30 who have started a company in the last four years.
Grants can be used to help with business operations during the crisis and existing financial commitments such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers.
The initiative will also offer one-to-one support and guidance to applicants who need it.
Young people who are in the process of starting a business and don’t have any other source of income during the crisis are also eligible to apply for a grant.
Jonathan Townsend, interim UK chief executive of The Prince’s Trust, said: “It is more important than ever to encourage and protect the entrepreneurial spirit of young people in the UK.
“ Small and medium-sized businesses make up most of this country’s economy and we need the next generation of entrepreneurs to come out fighting on the other side of this crisis.”
He added: “[The fund] is a lifeline that will help these businesses make it through the challenging time ahead.”
Alison Rose, chief executive of NatWest Group said: “We know that the impacts of the coronavirus are being felt by the UK’s businesses and we are doing everything we can to support our customers through these unprecedented times.
“It is imperative that the next generation of entrepreneurs also get the support that they need to ensure they get through this period.”
‘Small, independent businesses need financial help’
For designer Danielle Neill, 29, this is an uncertain time and financial challenges are mounting.
Danielle set up Danielle Neill Designs in Bristol two years ago after taking part in a Prince’s Trust enterprise course.
A lot of Danielle’s sales usually come from shops but she says the damage caused by coronavirus to the retail sector has been “a huge blow”.
She is now trying to create an Etsy shop online in order to boost sales and will continue to sell products through her own website.
“Small, independent businesses like mine need financial help though and the situation still feels really unclear,” she said.
“I have an appointment in two weeks’ time to try to get Universal Credit but it’s already taken two weeks to get to this point.
“I hope that with encouragement and support, I can come out of this positively on the other side and that Danielle Neill Designs can continue to grow.”
Beth Calverley, 26, who runs poetry workshop organisation The Poetry Machine, has had all her bookings cancelled or postponed since the virus outbreak – and the government’s support for self-employed doesn’t apply to her.
The business, which she set up with the help of the Prince’s Trust, works with charities, companies, hospitals, festivals, schools and universities, helping people to express thoughts and feelings that they may be struggling to put into words.
She says she has been “in shock” for a few weeks but is confident her business will survive and is now offering Poetry Party sessions online.
Beth said: “Many grandparents are in isolation, children are home from school and parents are trying to get work done.
“This is a creative activity that everyone can join in together.”
She added: “Thanks to the internet, I can still work my magic digitally. Poetry is needed in times of change and uncertainty so I want to reach as many people as possible.
“The grant that The Prince’s Trust has put out is really brilliant.”
Entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30 who are not eligible for the fund but find their businesses affected by coronavirus can contact the Prince‘s Trust for support.
The trust says every young person who gets in touch will be offered one-to-one support to connect with mentors or build skills.
To apply for funding and support from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk/about-the-trust/coronavirus-response/enterprise-relief-fund.