Entrepreneurs are to be offered financial backing worth £69 million from the Government, under a scheme which Prime Minister David Cameron believes will help create tens of thousands of new businesses.
The cash will extend until 2014 the New Enterprise Allowance scheme of business mentoring and funding for jobless people who want to start up a company.
And start-up loans totalling £34 million will be offered to support an estimated 7,600 businesses, with specific help for former members of the armed forces.
Downing Street said that the New Enterprise Allowance has already helped create more than 26,000 businesses since its introduction in 2011, while nearly 8,000 new companies have been helped by start-up loans.
Mr Cameron was today meeting some of the entrepreneurs who have benefited from the schemes, including a Newcastle-based company offering home-delivery children's activity boxes, a cocktail service from Leeds, a BMX bike parts provider from Norfolk and a real ale micro-brewery from Warwickshire.
The Prime Minister said: "I am determined to do all I can to support the British economy and that includes helping small businesses and budding entrepreneurs to get on. In the last two years we have helped tens of thousands of people to turn their ideas into a viable business, and this additional support will help thousands more.
"My message is simple: if you have drive, determination and are prepared to work hard, we will back you."
The Start-Up Loan scheme helps people to get business ideas off the ground with a loan of typically around £4,500 and mentoring support. The new funding will provide more loans for those over 30 and specific support for ex-Service personnel. The scheme will also be rolled out in Scotland and Wales.
The New Enterprise Allowance offers expert business mentoring and financial support to people living on benefits. Referrals to the scheme were due to end in September but will now continue for a further 15 months until the end of December 2014.
Dragons' Den star Levi Roots - t he south London entrepreneur behind Reggae Reggae Sauce - was attending today's 10 Downing Street reception.
He said: "Before I went to Dragon's Den, I needed help to get my idea off the ground. That is what these schemes are about. They give you the financial support and the business advice you need to take the next step. Starting your own business can be tough but I'd encourage people to give it a go."