By Maximilian Clarke

Be the Boss: a £5 million scheme to help ex-service personnel launch their own businesses is being expanded, the Government has announced.

The initiative offers business start-up training, grants and loans up to £30,000 as well as mentoring. Funded by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, and delivered by the Royal British Legion, the scheme has attracted over 1,000 registrations so far.

“It is terrific that we can extend Be the Boss to all Service-leavers,” said business Minister, Mark Prisk. “This scheme provides a means for many ex-Service personnel, whose employment options are limited by injury, to become entrepreneurs.

“Service people face distinctive difficulties in starting businesses such as a lack of a network after a mobile career, and this is reflected in the low rate of self-employment in this group — which is just 6 per cent.

“We are very grateful for the sterling work done by the Royal British Legion. They had not previously been involved with enterprise, being a charity principally concerned with providing welfare services. They are now very switched onto encouraging enterprise amongst their members.”

The £5m funding for the Be the Boss Scheme has been structured as an endowment with the aim that RBL will also lever in additional private sector co-investment to ensure the sustainability. The scheme acts as a central portal, allowing delivery partners to do what they specialise in before directing applicants back to Be the Boss for the next stage of the process within the scheme. This ensures that RBL do not duplicate capacity available elsewhere but focus instead on applicants and their experience.

RBL were chosen to administer the scheme due to their UK‑wide coverage, respect amongst Service personnel, tri-Service coverage and the capability to deliver. The scheme opened for expressions of interest on 1 April 2010 and applications were accepted from 14 June 2010.
In total, the Be the Boss network comprises four governments, six subcontractors, 58 independent partners, and 200+ delivery organisations. As of 6 June 2011, there were 1026 active applicants.

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