University is a great environment for startups

Consider starting your own business, says ex-Dragons' Den star James Caan

When I was appointed chair of Start-Up Loans I couldn't wait to get started. Backing the next generation of entrepreneurs is something I'm extremely passionate about, having been building businesses for the past 30 years.

Start-Up Loans will alter the future for young people in this country. The availability of low-cost loans and a first-class mentoring system means that any young person with a great idea and the passion to make it work can now start a business. It's a scheme that I would encourage students to be a part of.

Currently, 60 per cent of all private sector jobs and 50 per cent of public sector output is provided by small-and-medium sized business. The creation of new small businesses is vital to Britain's financial health and job creation, and young graduates leaving our universities are vital to entrepreneurship.

We're now launching our recruitment drive for student ambassadors for Start-Up Loans who will help budding student entrepreneurs throughout the country create their own business with our backing. In the first five weeks of 2013, our loans helped 500 young people launch their own business and we've now helped our first thousand young entrepreneurs.

As our voice on campus, our ambassadors will represent Start-Up Loans and encourage their fellow students to consider starting a business. They'll be responsible for helping create these businesses at their universities with our loans. I believe this programme will give students a chance to play an instrumental role in supporting entrepreneurship across the country and is an excellent opportunity for them to hone their own entrepreneurial muscle.

I met our first group of student ambassadors a couple of weeks ago at my office. They're amazingly talented individuals, all of whom are currently actively engaged with business societies at their universities.

I'm excited to see what they and other student ambassadors will bring to the mix. Universities are hubs of innovation and creativity and I believe they provide a great environment for enterprise. Through our ambassadors, we'll be able to help students who want to start a business get the opportunity to make it happen.

We want to make sure every student realises that they can turn their ideas into an income and that Start-Up Loans can offer them help and support. With our ambassadors, I have no doubt that we're on our way.

For more information about Start-Up Loans and the ambassador scheme, visit