A business-owner from Aberdeen has been chosen to represent successful UK start-ups by the Government-backed Start Up Loans Company (SULCo) with the return of its Ambassador Programme.
The year-long Ambassador programme was launched at a reception in London on 19th September to honour their hard work and dedication, and celebrate the success of UK start-ups.
The reception began with a panel discussion chaired by The Start Up Loans Company’s interim CEO Joanna Hill. Joanna was joined by Keith Morgan, the CEO of British Business Bank, of which SULCo is a subsidiary, representatives from SULCo’s Delivery Partner network and the Ambassadors.
The Start Up Loans Company forms part of The British Business Bank’s UK-wide drive to encourage entrepreneurship, increase the rate of business creation and improve the survival prospects of early-stage businesses.
Mechelle Clark, 35, launched Melt, a grilled cheese toastie café, in March 2016 after receiving £20,000 from The Start Up Loans Company.
The Aberdeen-based business now has a turnover of £80,000 and Mechelle sells both savoury and sweet toasties from her café and mobile van. Savoury options include macaroni and cheddar, haggis and gruyere; and cheddar, gruyere and béchamel. Sweet treats include mascarpone and Nutella.
As the Aberdeen café continues to grow, Mechelle is considering opening a second premises in Dundee. Available for catering hire, Mechelle also caters at birthdays, weddings, corporate events and food festivals in the local area.
Mechelle Clark, founder of Melt, said: “After being made redundant twice in just over a year, it felt like a personal set-back and my confidence was at an all-time low. Returning back to the drawing board, I realised the best way to secure a new job was by creating my own. I’ve always had a real passion for food, especially if I’m cooking for others, but I never thought I could do it for a living. Being hand-picked as an Ambassador to represent UK start-ups is a real privilege and I feel really grateful for the opportunity.
“Although leaving 10 years’ experience in a former industry was daunting, I have no doubt that transitioning into self-employment was the right decision for me. I feel really lucky to be doing something I love every day – it barely feels like work! If the business continues to do well, we’d love to open a second store in Dundee in the next couple of years.”
Minister for small business, Margot James, said: “The Start Up Loans Company has been crucial in helping tens of thousands of aspiring business owners to get their venture off the ground, and this year’s ambassadors, such as Melt, are a great example of what promising entrepreneurs can achieve with the right support.
“This Government is committed to building an economy that works for everyone and the success of small businesses is crucial to this. That is why ensuring Britain remains the best place in the world to start, grow and scale up a business is at the heart of our Industrial Strategy.”
The launch of the Ambassador programme comes as The Start Up Loans Company announces it has provided over 50,000 loans to British start-ups, bringing the total it has lent so far to more than £345m.
Joanna Hill, interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, said: “This year’s Ambassadors showcase the vibrancy and variety of the UK start-up landscape, from cheesemakers to incubator space for start-ups, the six businesses we’ve selected really do represent everything that’s great about this country’s entrepreneurial spirit.”