Young entrepreneur Sarah Lavery

The Prince’s Trust and Ulster Bank launch £5 million grant fund for young entrepreneurs affected by coronavirus

Initiative offers self-employed young people affected by the coronavirus outbreak flexible access to grants and business support

The Prince’s Trust and Ulster Bank have announced the launch of a £5 million fund to help young entrepreneurs across the UK to keep their businesses afloat during the coronavirus crisis.

The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund is available to entrepreneurs aged 18-30, who can apply for grants and tailored support from today. Grants can be used to maintain core business operations during the crisis, as well as meet any existing financial commitments, such as paying for essential equipment or settling invoices from suppliers. In conjunction with these grants, the initiative will also offer one-to-one support and guidance to applicants who need it. 

To be eligible, businesses must have started up in the last four years and be run by someone aged 18 to 30. Young people who are in the process of starting a business and don’t have any other source of income during the crisis are also eligible to apply for a grant.  To apply for funding and support from The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund visit

Alison Rose, CEO, NatWest Group said:

“We know that the impacts of the coronavirus are being felt by the UK’s businesses and we are doing everything we can to support our customers through these unprecedented times. It is imperative that the next generation of entrepreneurs also get the support that they need to ensure they get through this period, and I am pleased to be partnering with The Prince’s Trust to offer these grants to the UK’s young and up and coming businesses.”

Mark Dougan, Northern Ireland Director of The Prince’s Trust said:

“It is more important than ever to encourage and protect the entrepreneurial spirit of young people in Northern Ireland. Small and medium sized businesses make up most of this country’s economy and we need the next generation of entrepreneurs to come out fighting on the other side of this crisis. The challenge, in the short term, is that many young entrepreneurs whose business models are ordinarily completely viable are now suffering a considerable loss of income during this unprecedented economic time.

That’s why this new fund is so crucial; it’s a lifeline that will help these businesses make it through the challenging time ahead. It complements support from the government and allows us to provide grants to those who need it most.”

The Fund builds on the existing partnership between The Prince’s Trust and Ulster Bank which supports young entrepreneurs in the UK. Since 1983, The Prince’s Trust has supported over 88,000 young people to start their own business through its Enterprise Programme. Ulster Bank is the largest and longest supporter of this programme.

Entrepreneurs aged 18-30 who are not eligible for the fund but find their businesses to be affected by coronavirus can contact The Prince‘s Trust for support.  Every young person who gets in touch will be offered personalised one to one support to connect with mentors or build their skills. 

As part of its wider response to coronavirus, The Prince’s Trust has launched its Youth Action Plan to show how it will support young people who are out of school, unemployed, self-employed or generally needing a confidence boost over the coming weeks and months. If you would like to find out more, or to help The Trust in its mission to be there for the nation’s young people, search ‘Prince’s Trust’ online.

Ulster Bank has put in place a broad package of financial support with solutions for business customers, large and small, during the crisis:

  • Capital repayment holidays to help customers reduce the impact on their working capital from repaying existing loan facilities.
  • Ulster Bank has opened up the Government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to more customers, that are eligible under the scheme rules, than any other Bank.  The minimum loan size that they offer under the CBILS scheme is £5,000 and available to sole traders & partnerships as well as limited companies.
  • Ulster Bank will not take a new or increased personal guarantee from any customer that obtains funding through the CBILS scheme.
  • Fee free overdraft facilities up to £5,000.

One young entrepreneur from Northern Ireland who will be applying for a grant is Sarah Lavery, 26 from Newtownabbey. Sarah set up her children’s entertainment business Dudes and Divas three years ago with support from The Prince’s Trust. Last year the business had its best year of trading yet, expanded its premises and Sarah’s achievements as a young entrepreneur were recognised when she won the Enterprise Award at The Prince’s Trust Awards in Northern Ireland.

Two weeks ago Sarah had to take the difficult step of closing the doors of her business for now and cancelling all events due to the Coronavirus.

“I felt awful, like I was a failure and letting the children and families down who had parties booked with us. But it became clear that it was in the best interest of our customers and staff to close.

“I had always dreamt of running my own business and a few years ago I got in touch with The Prince’s Trust to see if they could help make it happen. I took part in the Enterprise programme where I was paired with an amazing mentor and offered a loan to help with set up costs.

“Dudes and Divas Entertainment is a unique children’s party venue themed like an enchanted garden with princesses, superheroes, fairies and pirates. Snow machines, bubbles and candyfloss machines add to the magic while a sensory room, wheelchair access and a disabled toilet mean that everyone is able to join the party.”

Sarah employs three members of staff and is concerned about cashflow during the time the business will be closed. She welcomes the announcement of the The Prince’s Trust and NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund.  

“This scheme gives me hope that there are organisations trying to support young entrepreneurs through this difficult time. If I was successful in applying for a grant I would use the money to help pay for the essential ongoing costs of keeping the business going at the minute such as rent and bills.

“I’m very lucky to have benefited from the support of mentors during my business journey. Having the support of someone to turn to who understands business has been so important and has opened so many doors in terms of networks. Especially at a time like this it is so helpful to have a network of people you can contact who are experiencing the same thing.

“I’m trying to stay positive and use this time to develop our website and plan for the future to make sure our business is strong when we reopen.”

Last updated 1 year ago