UK Steel Enterprise is celebrating helping to launch more than 200 businesses in South Yorkshire during the last 18 months.
The Tata Steel subsidiary, which was originally set up to invest in job creating enterprise in steel closure areas, provided more than £100,000 to help 162 businesses in Rotherham alone.
The cash comes from UK Steel Enterprise’s Kickstart scheme, which provides small grants and loans to help new enterprises get off the ground.
Regional manager Keith Williams said: “We hoped when we started this scheme that it would be successful, but we did not realise how successful.
“There has been a steady demand from new entrepreneurs across South Yorkshire, especially from Rotherham.
“Our core business is providing development finance for established companies which might need up to £750,000 to help with growth plans, but providing small amounts of cash to help new businesses get off the ground has proved not just a sound investment but has also been very encouraging and rewarding. We hope these new businesses will, in time, grow.
“Even if they all just employed one person, then that job creation would be significant.
“It is often difficult for small businesses to raise finance, especially over the last couple of years. We recognised this and decided to do something about it to help the local economy. We’re very pleased with the results.”
Rotherham Investment and Development Office business adviser Bob Langley praised the programme.
“It has been a fantastic scheme,” he said. “At the very outset of the business such support has undoubtedly helped many who would otherwise not have started.
“Through their generosity UK Steel Enterprise has enabled many business dreams to become reality.”
Entrepreneurs assisted by Kickstart have included artist Stephen Smith; Adrian Thrower who opened up a caravan maintenance business and Jenny Bazeley who started her own equestrian business in Stocksbridge.
Other recipients have included Sheffield Hallam University student Vanessa Linley who is developing a waterproof, breathable bandage for pets and Andy Muscroft of Red Monkey Films.