British Business Bank’s New North East Ambassador

Durham based Collected, a bookshop specialising in work written by women, is among 12 small businesses to be selected as champions of UK start-ups by Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank.

The announcement comes as the programme celebrates its 10-year anniversary, having delivered more than 5,300 loans worth more than £48m to new business owners in the North East since 2012.

One such recipient of these loans is Emma Hamlett, founder of Collected Books, who took out a £25,000 loan to open Collected. Describing herself as a “Covid cliché”, Emma exited stage left from her career as a museum curator in 2020 and began to explore what else might be possible, realising in the process that, for her,  there was no getting away from books.

“At Collected, we simply love books and reading – and talking about books and reading. We’re also passionate about championing work by female writers, much of which – through imbalance and bias in publishing, literary journalism, and prize giving – has historically been overshadowed and overlooked.”

The annual Start Up Loans Ambassadors programme, now in its seventh year, celebrates exceptional business owners, like Emma, who have followed their ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the government-backed Start Up Loans programme.

Drawn from each of the UK’s 12 Nations and regions, the 2022 Start Up Loans Ambassadors reflect the broad diversity and ambition of the nation’s smaller business sector at a grass roots level. More details of the businesses selected from Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and England’s regions can be found further below.

Start Up Loans was established as a £10m pilot scheme by Lord Young in 2012, in the shadow of the 2008 financial crisis. His vision was to enable more young people to achieve their dream of setting up their own business, by offering affordable loans and expert support to those who might otherwise struggle to access funding.

Since then, the programme has delivered more than 97,000 loans to business owners across the UK, amounting to more than £900m of funding, while expanding to support entrepreneurs of all ages. 40% of loan recipients have been women and 21% people from minority ethnic backgrounds. 40% of recipients have been aged 18-30, reflecting the scheme’s continued support for the next generation of UK business owners.

Sophie Dale-Black, UK Network Director, North of England and the Midlands said: “Given the current challenges facing business owners across the North East, it’s never been more important to celebrate those using creativity, tenacity and grit to make a success of their enterprises. It’s my pleasure to welcome Emma and congratulate her on her role as Ambassador, and I look forward to working with her over the coming year to inspire others thinking of becoming their own boss.” 

Tina McKenzie, Policy and Advocacy Chair at the Federation of Small Businesses, said: “This is great news from the British Business Bank, marking 10 years of improving the small business ‘birth rate’, and at the same time powering the levelling up agenda by supporting small business creation in all the UK nations and regions.  Today’s figures and ambassadors are a real legacy for Lord Young, and we hope that this can be built on and expanded in future.”

Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design, RNIB said: “RNIB wants every blind person to be able to lead the life they want to live. British Business Bank is a government owned business development bank dedicated to making finance markets work better for smaller businesses. Two very different organisations have come together with a shared mission to enable those with sight loss to realise their ambition in starting a successful business.”

Through a network of delivery partner organisations, the Start Up Loans programme provides access to pre-and-post loan support to help applicants to develop a business plan; fixed-interest first and second loans of up to £25,000 to start or grow their business; as well as mentoring support to help loan recipients with everything from cash flow to marketing.

In 2022, the programme was expanded to make first loans available to businesses that have been trading for up to three years, and second loans to businesses up to five years. The programme previously provided finance to start-ups which had been trading for up to two years.

Breakdown of loans by region

UK Region Loans Made Amount Lent (£) Average Loan Amount (£)
East Midlands 5,468 49,820,763 9,111
East of England 6,893 65,561,712 9,511
London 20,474 187,085,791 9,138
North East 5,313 48,138,743 9,061
North West 12,022 108,476,654 9,024
Northern Ireland 1,495 12,764,845 8,538
Scotland 6,309 55,574,315 8,809
South East 9,626 97,040,179 10,081
South West 8,328 75,798,566 9,102
Wales 4,376 43,526,310 9,947
West Midlands 8,031 73,671,613 9,173
Yorkshire and The Humber 8,490 81,181,195 9,562
Region not obtained 444 5,478,723 12,339
Grand Total 97,269 904,119,406 9,295


Source: Start Up Loans, 31 August 2022



  1. Glasgow, Scotland: Emma Airley and Sebastian Bacewicz – Pastéis Lisboa
  2. Abergavenny, Wales: Matt Thomas and Joby Barnard – Dryad
  3. Craigavon, Northern Ireland: Claudia Mariza Rosado e Costa – Mama Claudia 
  4. Old Street, London: Dhruvin Patel – Ocushield 
  5. Lincoln, East Midlands: Joezy Uweh and Amy White – Naturawell
  6. Woking, South East: Choe Bruce – Chloe Bruce Academy
  7. Cambridge, East of England: Alice Wu – Peace and Pure
  8. Durham, North East: Emma Hamlett  – Collected
  9. York, Yorkshire & The Humber: Chantal Charles-Smith – Laughing Llama Coffee and Bistro
  10. Walsall, West Midlands: Nirmla Warwood – Thatch and Stone 
  11. Clitheroe, North West: Selina Ellis-Gray – Hellion Toys 
  12. Wrexham, South West: Hannah Saunders – Toddle Born Wild

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