AN entrepreneur who studied abroad has used his experience to launch his own student support business.

Ray Abbas, 28, was inspired to set up Settle In after spending time in France and Germany while studying at Edge Hill University.

While abroad, he found there was lack of support available for international students and difficult to find basic information and navigate a foreign city.

After working closely with international pupils at his university’s office, he discovered other students had encountered similar experiences and wanted to make moving to a new country less daunting.

Settle In, based in Stockton-on-Tees, offers help to international students in universities across the North East.

The website displays information on local attractions, maps, what’s on guides and student essentials such as money and travel advice.

He was able to set up the business with the help of a £30k loan from the Business Enterprise Fund (BEF) via its NPIF (Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund) Microfinance scheme.

Mr Abbas said: “The loan has enabled me to recruit two full time digital marketing staff, who will help develop the website, manage social media, create content and marketing materials for the business.

"The support from BEF has also allowed us to move into fantastic new offices and develop our website, helping us feel more established as a brand new business.”

Lee Vickers, investment manager at BEF, said: “It’s marvellous to see such a powerful story behind this loan.

"Ray has experienced the issue first hand and has used his entrepreneurial spirit to bring his idea to life.

"He has identified a huge gap within the market and we’re excited to see how our loan will transform the business and help students across the country.”

BEF provides loans from £500 to £150,000 to businesses looking to expand and grow their reach and has lent over £30 million.

More information about Business Enterprise Fund and available funding can be found at