Why Mr Mo is one in 750m

The British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans passed a major milestone today, having lent of £750 million, amounting to more than 85,500 loans since its launch in 2012. 

Over the past year alone (April 2020 – April 2021), the government-backed programme has issued £173.2m to 11,408 people across the UK, as many entrepreneurs took the pandemic as an opportunity to launch or scale up their first enterprise.

Two fifths were women. One in five were people from ethnic minorities and three in ten were unemployed when they applied.

The Bank even identified the recipient of the 750 millionth pound: 39-year-old Aaron Mo, from Bermondsey, who borrowed £25,000 after stepping down as a Policy Analyst for the London Assembly to launch a pop-up Chinese bakery called Ong Ong Buns in Shoreditch.

He said: “Lockdown made me re-evaluate what was important and gave me the opportunity to become my own boss, which has always been a dream of mine. My wife is a Chinese Malaysian and moved to London last year. We’re both big foodies, but since moving here she has craved sweet Chinese snacks and avoids eating Western sandwiches and baked goods.

“This made me realise there is a gap in the market for convenience food for typical Chinese tastebuds.

Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “Providing £750 million worth of funding to new businesses across the UK is a huge milestone, particularly given the challenges businesses have faced during the pandemic.

“Despite the challenges the pandemic has brought to business owners, entrepreneurial spirit has not dwindled.”

The Start Up Loans programme provides loans, mentoring and support to existing and aspiring business owners across the UK, helping support the Build Back Better agenda to bring prosperity to areas of deprivation and to people who may otherwise find it difficult to secure financial support.