TWO friends who run a Horwich Internet cafe believe they have logged on to a franchise winner.

Directors Gary Marsden and Hassan Isaji spent several months planning the details before the December opening of Cyberjungle on the Middlebrook leisure development at Lostock.

Customers can enjoy a cappuccino coffee while using one of the 16 available computer terminals to send e-mails or surf the worldwide web.


Many enjoy finding out details of the films on show at the nearby Warner Brothers cinema.

A second strand to the Cyberjungle operation involves a business Internet and training lounge established with the help of a maximum £5,000 start-up advance from the Bolton Business Loan Fund.

The room accommodates about a dozen people for a variety of purposes, including computer/sales training and Internet sourcing.

Gary, a 28-year-old computer analyst who was born in Billinge and lives in Standish, teamed-up with 29-year-old Hassan to launch a £100,000 investment in the future.

"This is the prototype," Gary said.

The first franchise is due to open in December and a further five are planned throughout the North-west next year.

Hassan, aged 29, whose Ugandan Asian family settled in Preston in 1972, is a chemist who runs a hazardous waste company in Burscough, near Southport.

They are confident that the Horwich operation will eventually be a viable model for others throughout Britain and abroad.

Gary concedes that other British Internet cafes have opened and failed in the past.

"They have not been carried out by proper business people," he said. "We intend to impose proper business standards and processes." 100 up for loan fund THE Cyberjungle enterprise is the 100th to benefit from cheaper finance arranged through the Bolton Business Loan Fund.

The partners are Midland Bank (part of the HSBC Group), Bolton Council and Bolton Business Ventures.

It was launched in 1994 to replace the Shell Enterprise Loan Fund and the Midland Bank/BBV Small Business Fund - both fully subscribed.

Since then total loans granted have amounted to £534,000 with a further £1,250,000 "levered in" to the local economy as a result of the financial packaging associated with the projects.

The availability of the funding has led to the creation of 192 jobs. Details of current funding availability can be obtained from Mike Parker, the loan funds and finance manager (tel: 01204 391400).

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