Two North East entrepreneurs are looking to grow a second successful education sector business with the help of a further five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.

Brian Mair and Diego Melo worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers in 2019 to secure a £40,000 Small Loan Fund investment which enabled them to implement their growth plans for Nudge Education, which helps disenfranchised young people reengage with education.

And they have now accessed a further £28,000 investment from the fund to assist with the expansion of Nudge Minds, a separate business which provides personalised therapeutic interventions for young people in need of support.

The investment is being used to help bring in specialist staff, support the firm’s drive towards securing further industry accreditations, improving its website and enhancing its marketing activity.

Nudge Minds already works with around 40 local authorities across the UK and is assisting more than 400 clients with a wide range of issues including social, emotional, nutritional, relationship and self-esteem difficulties.

It has access to a network of around 350 care professionals to ensure that each individual client receives access to the specific types of support they require, with services coordinated from its headquarters in Newcastle.

The Nudge Minds management team worked with AbacusBean Accountants on completing its latest investment.

Brian Mair says: “Our experience was that many of the young people that we were supporting through Nudge Education required therapeutic interventions alongside the educational support we were providing, and it makes sense to look to meet both sets of needs at the same time in a coordinated way.

“We work closely with carefully-chosen care professionals, families and the young people themselves to create a holistic service that addresses each individual’s particular needs and helps to create the balance in their lives which is all too often missing.

“We’re able to provide support all year round, rather than just during school term times, and with many teachers deciding to become social workers and therapists, we have a growing cohort of professionals that understand all sides of the situations that our young people are facing.

“The pandemic has exacerbated what was already growing demand for our services across all areas of operation, and with understanding building of both the approach we take and the results we get, we’re confident that we will see our operations continuing to expand this year.

“We’ve had a positive relationship with the NEL team over the last few years, and with the flexibility and business advice that we know they offer, it felt right to go back to them to look for this second investment.”

Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Brian and Diego are utilising their specialist sector knowledge to help hundreds of young people find ways to improve their personal situations and future prospects, and are building very successful businesses along the way.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, visit www.nel.co.uk or contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.