Entrepreneurship in Scotland is on the rise, according to new figures from the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme.
They reveal that the government-backed scheme has lent more than £30m to small businesses in Scotland since it was launched in 2012, £3.5m (13%) higher than in March this year.
In total, the scheme has issued more than 4,000 loans, with an average loan size of £7,462, to help people in Scotland become their own boss.
Of the 4,047 loans issued to aspiring business owners, 35% went to women. Among them was Victoria Nicol, who took out a £10,000 loan in 2017 to grow My Language Connection Ltd (MLC), a specialist technology translation agency in Glasgow, to the next level.
Victoria had always loved using her sales and marketing skills to help clients at the translation agency where she worked for several years. With the benefit of that experience she identified a gap in the market for a more specialised form of translation to help Scottish businesses navigate more technical vocabulary and MLC was born.
With the help of the fixed-interest loan provided by Start Up Loans, Victoria was able to pay for new software which enabled her to save time and money by managing her clients’ projects more efficiently across a network of 400 specialist translators globally. The loan also enabled her to invest in business development missions, which helped her to win new contracts with her main clients.
The business now generates an annual turnover of £178,000 and Victoria employs three full-time members of staff and engages with a sub-contracting network that employs 400 linguists.
As a result of this success, Victoria has been nominated for Business Woman of the Year at this year’s Scottish Women’s Awards.
The Start Up Loans scheme provides fixed-interest loans of up to £25,000 to aspiring business owners in every part of the country. Since 2012, it has lent £527 million through 66,435 loans to people from a range of backgrounds and ethnicities.
Through a network of delivery partners, the scheme also provides pre-application support with business plans and cash flow forecasts and free mentoring to help businesses get into the best possible position to succeed.
Victoria Nicol, the founder of My Language Connection Ltd, said: “I’ve always had a passion for business and startups after graduating with a BA (Hons) in Management, Technology and Enterprise but felt limited in my previous role. Start Up Loans, through its funding, helped me greatly, to drive my business and passion to the next level. I wholeheartedly love what I do and find being a business owner incredibly rewarding.”
Richard Bearman, Managing Director of Start Up Loans, said: “Small businesses are crucially important to our economy, helping to create jobs and generate income, and we’re dedicated to helping them thrive. Knowing that Start Up Loans plays a crucial part in the success of businesses such as My Language Connection is fantastic.”
Damian Baetens, Business Support Director for delivery partner Transmit Start-Ups, said: “Businesses like My Language Connection simply wouldn’t be able to get established without access to schemes like start up loans, and the help and support which our advisers provide. We’re very proud to have been part of Victoria’s story; success stories like this are why we have a team dedicated to providing this support across Scotland.”
Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said: “Stories like Victoria’s are exactly what the Start Up Loans programme is about: supporting thousands of entrepreneurs across the UK to form new businesses, grow their local economies and be at the heart of their community.
“As a former small business owner, I understand how important access to finance is for small businesses to plan, invest and grow – including seizing the opportunities of scaling up in new markets after our departure from the EU. I am proud that the UK government has helped so many businesses to do just that.”