By Daniel Hunter

Entrepreneurial jobseekers have set up more than 26,000 new businesses thanks to a government scheme that helps unemployed people turn their dreams of becoming their own boss into a reality, new figures published this week show.

From gourmet chocolate companies to internet games designers, the New Enterprise Allowance (NEA) has been behind a wide range of new ventures since it was introduced in 2011, with the most recent statistics showing around 2,000 new businesses being set up every month.

The NEA offers expert mentoring and financial support to jobseekers who want to start up their own business, helping people who have previously been on benefits turn their business ideas into successful enterprises.

The figures also show that beneficiaries of the scheme come from all ages, with more than 6,000 businesses started by people aged 50 or over — challenging the idea that entrepreneurial zeal is solely a youthful attribute.

Almost 4,000 disabled people were also helped by the scheme to become their own boss.

"The New Enterprise Allowance is a great example of the aspiration nation in action: government offering support to people with ideas, as well as the ‘can-do’ attitude to turn them into successful enterprises," Minister for Employment Mark Hoban said.

"Every month, we are successfully supporting around 2,000 jobseekers to get off benefits and start their own business so that they can fulfill their aspiration to look after themselves and their families.

Welcoming the announcement, entrepreneurship ambassador, Levi Roots said: "I am a big fan of the New Enterprise Allowance — it’s a great scheme, which helps people with ideas make the most of their talent.

"By offering expert mentoring support and start up funds it sends a message to those thinking about starting their own business: ‘you’re not alone’."

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