Start Up Loans, part of the British Business Bank, announced today that it has provided more than £100 million worth of funding to business owners aged between 18-24 years old, equating to more than 15,000 loans since the programme launched in 2012.

Of that national total, £7.5 million of funding has been provided to 1,008 young entrepreneurs in the south west, with Devon, Cornwall and Gloucestershire ranking as the most entrepreneurial counties in the region based on the number of loans provided, and Dorset and Somerset not far behind.

By county, Devon had by far the highest number of young entrepreneurs receiving a start up loan at 248, followed by Gloucestershire at 143 and Cornwall with 140. Dorset and Somerset followed closely behind with 139 and 134 respectively.

Of those to receive a Start Up loan across the UK, the most popular industries to launch a business in include retail (£8.5 million), hospitality (£5.8 million) and arts and entertainment (£2.5 million).

New data shows that the programme’s impact has been particularly noticeable among young entrepreneurs from across the UK, with 16.5% of all loan recipients aged 18-24 being unemployed before they got their loan.

Of all the loans distributed to entrepreneurs under 25, 39% have gone to female business owners and 24% to business owners from ethnic minority backgrounds.

Joel Jones, 24, from Cornwall, is just one of these recipients. He applied for a £20k start up loan, provided through SWIG Finance, to convert a classic VW campervan into a mobile cocktail bar and launch his business, The Mixer, aimed at weddings and parties.

He said: At the time I applied I was only 20 and just out of university. No one else was going to help me. For me, the start up loan was really the only way I was ever going to be able to make it work. Of course, it’s scary thinking about starting your own business and applying for a loan but my attitude was, ‘I can either think about doing this for years, or I can just get on and do it’.

“I knew the van would be something everyone could relate to. There are thousands of horse-box-style mobile bars out there and I knew this would be different.”