“ART Business Loans was not the cheapest, but they were prepared to lend me the money, which other funders weren’t in the early days.”
Born in India, Tajinder Chaudhry came to the UK to take a Masters in Tourism and Business Administration at the University of Birmingham. He wanted his grandmother to come over and visit him and it was then that he realised there was a lack of specialist companies offering holidays with appropriate support for the disabled. He approached many travel companies, large and small, to discuss the concept and received positive feedback on the idea but no interest from them in setting anything up. So, after further comprehensive research over the next year, he decided to set up Able Journeys.
India and Europe were his first destinations, but he has plans to expand over time to cover the globe. “My research showed that there are the same issues in countries all over the world,” he says, “disabled people – wheelchair users, visually and hearing impaired, for example – who would love to travel, but can’t find a specialist company able to fully understand and cater for their needs.”
Tajinder needed to buy specialist equipment – hoists, ramps, mobile stair climber, etc – from the outset, as well as develop a comprehensive and sophisticated website. He couldn’t access sufficient funds from the Government’s Start Up Loan scheme so he approached ART, having met its Chief Executive at a networking event, to top up his working capital. “They went into a lot of detail, looking through my banks statements line by line,” he says, “which is fair enough when you are taking a risk on a business. After that they made a decision quickly and got the money through to me in a couple of weeks.”
With the loan from ART Tajinder was able to get his company on a firm footing and create three jobs. He works in partnership with existing travel companies, providing the additional support needed for disabled travellers. “We are growing steadily,” he says. “I think it’s very important to ensure that we don’t create demand that we can’t manage. I want everyone who comes on a holiday with Able Journeys to have an excellent experience. Many are travelling to religious festivals or on pilgrimage, taking a holiday of a lifetime, or their last big holiday, so it’s important that we get everything just right for them and their travelling companions.”