Lee Harris-Hamer and his family
X-Forces has announced that it has officially broken another glass ceiling, having supported 1,000 entrepreneurs, and lent over £9m in seed capital to help veterans and their families start their own businesses.
X-Forces is a social enterprise that nurtures entrepreneurial ambition in the UK military community, supporting start-up and scale up businesses which highlights innovative career opportunities for entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs form the community.
The organisation's overriding ambition is to provide sustainable and exciting careers through enterprise and employment that provide job satisfaction and security.
Since its launch in 2013, X-Forces has supported over 1,000 start-up businesses to launch, and facilitated £9.5m of seed-capital lending, as an official delivery partner of the government’s Start Up Loans Company.
The 1,000th recipient of X-Forces’ support, Lee Harris-Hamer, is the owner of White Horse Cleaning Company Limited based in in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. In just 13 months, he has grown the company into a complete professional, flexible and reliable cleaning service.
Lee joined the Royal Artillery in 2008 as he wanted to gain life skills, job security and see the world. He was deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and again in 2012. Lee was discharged on medical grounds with a back injury and mental ill health. When he returned from service he felt like he was without skills. He had lost his job and nearly lost his home and family. But Lee knew he was good at cleaning, so he started a small carpet cleaning business.
He decided to get in contact with X-Forces and told them all about his plans to grow his business. He attended an X-Forces one-day Introduction to Business Skills course and soon after applied for and received an X-Forces expansion loan. Lee now works with a 16-strong team who provide a complete cleaning service in North Yorkshire and surrounds.
“Anyone can do it, you just have to believe in yourself”, said Lee.
Lee is now aiming to share his skills and experience with other veterans who have had a similar experience to him. He is a keen mentor, having previously taught life-skills to school boys with autism, and feels mentoring is a fantastic way to give something back.
X-Forces CEO Ren Kapur MBE added: “Transition out of the forces, and starting a business are often difficult times for entrepreneurs and their families, but you do not need to be in it on your own, there are organisations there to support you.
"Lee is ideal to be promoted to our Big Business supporting Small Business mentoring programme, so we can help him gain additional contracts.”
Joanna Hill, Interim CEO of The Start Up Loans Company, said: “To have supported 1,000 military businesses is a fantastic achievement.
"Launching your own business is a great way to build a new career for yourself, and put your transferable skills to good use. We’re extremely proud to work alongside X-forces to provide funding and support to the military community across the UK.
“Start-ups are a key driver of our economy and an important part of communities. Lee’s ingenuity and determination to launch White Horse Cleaning Company is proof that hard work really does pay off.
"He’s been able to overcome challenges to build a thriving and successful business. We hope his perseverance will inspire more people to take the leap into self-employment and find out what they can achieve.”
X-Forces is headquartered in London, with a further office in Birmingham and remote representatives across the UK. It is patroned by Lord Young of Graffham, former advisor to the Prime Minister on Enterprise.