News story

Scheme helps almost 3,000 service leavers get into business

The _Be the Boss _scheme was set up with £5 million of funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is run by The…

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


The _Be the Boss _scheme was set up with £5 million of funding from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and is run by The Royal British Legion. There are currently 1,420 people currently engaged in the scheme, with 2,905 people having entered the programme since it began. So far 88 businesses ranging from fitness centres, locksmiths and plumbers have received funding and grants.

The scheme provides armed forces service leavers with loans and grants to help with the costs of starting and growing a business once they have returned to civilian life. It is also able to give people support, advice and access to business mentors who can give them the expert advice they need.

Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk said:

“There is a great entrepreneurial spirit among our armed forces veterans and the Government is keen to help them develop and grow their business expertise. They have the perfect attributes with great desire and a can-do attitude that is exactly the kind of commitment needed when starting and growing your own business.

“I have been inspired by many of the success stories that the scheme has delivered over its first two years. I am delighted that The Royal British Legion has committed their long term investment in Be the Boss and will be taking it forward to new levels of success in the future.”

All ex-service personnel are able to apply for mixed funding of a 25 per cent grant and 75 per cent loan of up to £7,500 for start-up businesses and £30,000 for existing businesses that want to grow.

One of the campaigns success stories is State of Mind Fitness in Hammersmith, London. The gym is run by former Royal Marine Barry O’Connell who has 12 years of active service experience.

Speaking about the scheme Barry O’Connell said:

“_Be the Boss _has been so important to the success of my business which has gone from strength to strength. I would recommend that any service leavers with an entrepreneurial mind look into a business start-up via the Legion’s Be the Boss scheme.”

Chris Simpkins, Director General at The Royal British Legion said:

“The Be the Boss scheme has been a tremendous success in its first two years with a unique onus on equipping our nation’s Armed Forces service leavers with the right tools required for business start-ups.

“The Legion is the only Armed Forces charity providing this particular funding, sound business advice, mentoring and future financial forecasts and we hope to see many more business successes in the coming years.”

Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans Andrew Robathan said:

“I am delighted to see that 3,000 former Service personnel have benefited from Be the Boss. Not only has it helped them make a successful transition into civilian life but they are making use of the wide range of skills they obtained during their career with the Armed Forces. I hope the success of the scheme inspires any other potential entrepreneurs amongst our former Service personnel to set up their own business.”

Service leavers are also being encouraged to learn more about existing government support for businesses. This includes gaining access to different channels of finance and getting involved in business mentoring through the Government’s portal

This year the Government is running the _Business in You _campaign to encourage more people to start or grow their business throughout 2012 using a range of existing support services. More information is available at

**Notes to editors:

**1) Be the Boss consists of three elements:

  • Information, advice and guidance - to raise awareness of the option of starting a business or becoming self?employed. This will also include enrolling on a modular business start-up training course.

  • Mixed funding of Loans and Grants - financial support to tackle the main challenges involved when starting a business and to assist viable business propositions to get off the ground.

  • Mentoring - working with existing providers of mentoring support. This should be available to all ex-Service personnel that have already started a business within the past two years.

2) For further information or to register for support please visit and/or contact the Be the Boss dedicated free phone helpline 0800 678 5787.

3) The Royal British Legion is the nation’s leading Armed Forces charity providing care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces past and present and their families. It is also the national Custodian of Remembrance and safeguards the Military Covenant between the nation and its Armed Forces. It is best known for the annual Poppy Appeal and its emblem, the red poppy.

4) BIS’s online newsroom contains the latest press notices, speeches, as well as video and images for download. It also features an up to date list of BIS press office contacts. See []( for more information.

Notes to Editors

Contact Information

Name BIS Press Office Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation & Skills Phone




Name Dan Palmer Job Title

Division Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Phone 020 7215 5303 Fax



Published 20 June 2012