Charity offers finance plan for 'olderpreneurs'

Lending scheme secures backing from Prince of Wales Enterprise Endowment fund

A charity has launched a partnership with a community finance website to help social enterprises and businesses run by older people to access loans.

Prime, a charity that provides information and advice for entrepreneurs over the age of 50, will assess business plans submitted by applicants and endorse those it thinks have a good chance of success. The endorsed applicants can then pitch their ideas on the Zopa website, an online marketplace for person-to-person lending, to find a low-cost loan.

Fifty per cent of the loan will be guaranteed by Prime with funding held in the Prince of Wales Enterprise Endowment. It is hoped this guarantee will make the so-called 'olderpreneurs' an even more attractive proposition for lenders.

In an earlier trial run, about 300 people pledged a total of £11,000 to an entrepreneur at 11 per cent interest, although he eventually decided to seek finance elsewhere.

Laurie South, chief executive of Prime, said the trial showed the idea had potential, but more work needed to be done to develop the market.

"We're still in a learning phase, but we're confident it will work," he said. "We have more people about to launch a bid, so we'll see how it goes.

"We think it will be more effective as word reaches the right kind of lenders."

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