A Belfast-based start-up that uses music to help schools develop entrepreneurial talent in their students has become one of the first local recipients of finance from a new national loan scheme for entrepreneurs.
Enterprise Factor, founded by local businessman Chris Hughes, has devised a six-week training programme that offers students a chance to develop, market and run the operations for a concert in their school featuring a former contestant from the X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. The firm has run the programme in ten schools and now plans to roll-out its programme to over 50 schools across Northern Ireland. The loan will support investment in materials for the programme and further marketing.
Finance for the deal was provided by Enterprise Northern Ireland, which has been appointed to administer at least £3million of funding in Northern Ireland on behalf of the Start Up Loans scheme – designed to stimulate entrepreneurship across the UK. The fund, which was extended to Northern Ireland by Business Secretary Vince Cable earlier this year, aims to back thousands of start up businesses across the UK.
To date, over 20 businesses have applied to Enterprise Northern Ireland for Start Up Loans totalling over £130,000. In addition to funding, successful applicants also receive expert business mentoring from Enterprise Northern Ireland to help them get their ideas up and running.
Chris Hughes, founder of Enterprise Factor, said: “I had this idea for this business in 2010 and having finally launched in May this year, it’s a great feeling to get this support. I’m excited about developing it across Northern Ireland. In the future, I hope to be able to export it to schools across the UK. It empowers the kids, gives them a taste for business at an early age and the end result generates real excitement around the schools – as well as helping them to raise revenue.
“The whole process has been really beneficial – the planning needed to secure the loan, as well as the business expertise I’ve been able to access through Enterprise Northern Ireland has been a crucial part of turning my ideas into a real, trading business.”
John D’Arcy, Chair of Enterprise Northern Ireland, which represents enterprise and economic development agencies with the public, private, and third sectors, said: “Enterprise Factor is a fine example of Northern Ireland’s creative sector in action. It is a growing business with the potential of encouraging more young people to make an enterprise out of their musical talent. At a time when Belfast is centre stage musically with Belfast Music Week just a week away, it’s fantastic.”
Gordon Gough, Chief Executive of Enterprise Northern Ireland, said: “Stimulating entrepreneurship remains an important challenge for Northern Ireland and it is our job as one of the lead delivery partners to encourage greater entrepreneurship here. Companies like Enterprise Factor, which are creative, fresh and vibrant, are the key to sustainable economic recovery.
“Confidence is an important part of innovation and new business starts. Our aim is to ensure that people know that if they want to start a new business, we can provide them with the advice, funding and support that they need.
“This is an important addition to the funding spectrum in Northern Ireland. There is a direct and strong link between levels of new business start-ups and economic prosperity and this finance is an important part of driving growth in the Northern Ireland economy.”
Further information about the loan fund can be obtained by contacting the Enterprise Northern Ireland office on 028 7776 3555 or visiting enterpriseni.com
For more information about Enterprise Factor, contact Chris Hughes on 028 9040 7484.