British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has lent £500 million to UK small businesses since it was set up in 2012 – with over £29m going to Scotland, according to official figures published today.
Of the 63,920 loans issued to fund small business across the UK, 3,879 went to aspiring business owners in Scotland worth £28.7m, with the average loan amounting to £7,388.
Of those who received a loan, almost four in 10 were women (38.5%), and over half (53%) were unemployed when they applied for the loan, reflecting the diversity of the UK start up community.
The Start Up Loans programme, part of the British Business Bank, has lent money and provided mentoring support to aspiring business owners in every part of the country and its impact has been particularly noticeable in areas of deprivation.
Scottish business owners supported by Start Up Loans have used the funding to set up businesses in a wide range of sectors. They include Mechelle Clark, 37, founder of Melt Aberdeen, the first made-to-order grilled cheese sandwich shop in Aberdeen.
She set up the business with the help of a £20,000 Start Up Loan after being made redundant from the oil and gas industry twice in the same year and deciding that she wanted to pursue her passion for cooking. Two years on, her business now generates a turnover of £150,179 and employs two full-time members of staff.
Mechelle Clark, said “I’ve always had a passion for cooking, and after being made redundant and attending up to 60 job interviews, I decided enough was enough and it was time to set up my open business doing what I love.
“Starting a business requires passion and determination. There are many highs but also many lows. Start Up Loans supported us every step of the way and I really wouldn’t be where I am today without their help and expertise.”
Another successful Scottish business owner is Victoria Nicol, founder of My Language Connection Limited (MLC) in Glasgow, which provides specialist language translation services for businesses.
Victoria used her business management and language skills to help her clients at the translation agency she worked at for years, but soon realised that there was a gap in the market for a more specialised form of technical translation services.
She decided to make the leap and set up her own business that would specialise in technical language and provide a personal, high-quality service. Sixteen months into trading, Victoria made the decision to take the growth of My Language Connection to the next level with the help of a £10,000 Start Up Loan.
Patrick Magee, Chief Commercial Officer of the British Business Bank, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that we have supported so many fantastic small business owners from up and down the country. The hard work and determination of the UK’s 5.7 million small businesses make a huge contribution to society, and it’s great to see latest research showing that the economic benefits of the Start Up Loans programme are nearly six times its economic costs.
“We’re committed to helping small businesses prosper and grow and we look forward to supporting many more in the future.”
Kelly Tolhurst, Small Business Minister, said: “This half a billion pound funding milestone is a great cause for celebration and a clear demonstration of our modern Industrial Strategy in action – supporting people to start and grow a business, creating good jobs and increasing the earning power of people throughout the UK.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and I’m particularly pleased to see that so many women and entrepreneurs from black, Asian and ethnic minority backgrounds have benefited from this government-backed scheme. This record funding is backing the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit and enabling people across the country to follow their passions and start and grow a business.”