Dr Craig Rose, founder Seaweed & Co, was one of 10 business owners to be honoured at a reception on Tuesday, October 22, at the Houses of Parliament in London to celebrate some of the UK’s most successful small businesses.
Distinguished guests included Lord Smith of Kelvin, Chair of the British Business Bank, Kelly Tolhurst MP, Minister for Small Business and Jonathan Reynolds MP, Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury.
Craig, a former marine biologist, had always been fascinated by the sea and wanted to create a business that was environmentally, commercially and socially sustainable. Noticing that people were becoming increasingly conscious about the environment and where their food came from, he decided to promote the nutritional benefits of seaweed to manufacturers, brands and consumers.
At the event launch he said:
“I’m delighted to be chosen as an Ambassador for Start-Up Loans. My story shows that if you believe in your idea and have the tenacity and determination to succeed, then anything is possible.
“The loan and support that I received from Start Up Loans made a huge difference to my business – I really wouldn’t be here without it.”
Launched in 2015, Craig invested in the necessary technology to process the seaweed and upscale production thanks to a £25,000 loan from Virgin StartUp, and assistance from TEDCO Business Support’s Start & Grow programme. He now supplies food and nutrition manufacturers with a range of seaweed products sourced exclusively from the Outer Hebrides, which are sold to global distributors working with major multinational companies.
Richard Bearman, Managing Director, Start Up Loans, said: “Start Up Loans exists to ensure aspiring business owners and early stage businesses have access to the finance and support they need to thrive and we’re proud to have played a part in helping innovative companies like Craig’s to start and grow.”
The Westminster reception will kick-start a year-long programme that will see the Start Up Loans Ambassadors take part in a series of local and national activities, where they will offer advice to other aspiring business owners about becoming their own boss.
Lissa Gillott, Head of Investment at Delivery Partner, Virgin Start Up, said: “We funded Craig back in 2015, he presented us with an ambitious plan to create a business that would vertically integrate the seaweed industry. Craig identified a gap in the market and believed that demand for seaweed related products in the UK was still in its infancy. Four years later Seaweed & Co sustainably harvest seaweed from around the remote islands of the Scottish Outer Hebrides and turn it into a range of products that have numerous health benefits for consumers. Providing the UK with a high quality locally sourced product and meaning that we are less reliant on imports from around the world.”
Now in its fourth year, the annual Ambassador programme celebrates exceptional business owners who have realised their ambition of becoming their own boss after receiving support from the Government-backed Start Up Loans programme.
Since 2012, the programme has delivered more than 67,000 loans to business owners across the UK amounting to more than £534 million – with over £30 million going to small businesses in the North East.