Published: 06:00, 10 January 2014
A former Apprentice contestant has pledged £1 million of his own cash to help new businesses.
Raj Dhonota, who grew up in Dartford, aims to establish two start up businesses each week through his StartUp Fund.
The former Leigh City Technology College pupil appeared on the first series of the BBC show starring Lord Sugar.
And much like the straight-talking cockney business guru, Mr Dhonota is using his own money to help companies get off the ground.
The entrepreneur is setting up the fund to help firms avoid the mistakes he made with his first business in 2001, which made unrecoverable losses, leaving him bankrupt.
Mr Dhonota, who lives in Keston, Bromley, said: “I’ve always wanted to do something significant to help startups because of my own background and experiences.
“I know too well how hard it is to establish a viable and profitable business without finance, support and experience, and I want to help entrepreneurs avoid similar setbacks that I encountered.
“I am passionate about startups and find it incredibly satisfying and exciting to help people achieve their dreams.”
The scheme is open to new businesses in all sectors and to entrepreneurs of all ages.
Successful applicants will be given mentors offering a helping hand with finance, resources, expertise, contacts and a growth plan.
He added: “Whilst there are a lot of startup schemes out there already, many of them neglect the mature entrepreneurs which are a highly viable market.
“I believe in equality and that the opportunities available to young entrepreneurs should be available to the older generation.”
Mr Dhonota has been a self-employed business mentor since appearing on the Apprentice in 2005.
Among his business ventures is Igniva Solutions, a software development company he has run for the last eight years. The company employs 400 people and has a turnover of £2m a year.
To apply for the StartUp Fund, visit www.rajdhonota.com.