Start Up Loans scheme celebrates £1 billion of loans to UK small businesses, with £62m in almost 7,000 loans to Scotland

Paul Crawford (Panther M*lk founder). (Photo: Brian Sweeney)

THE BRITISH Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme has delivered over £1 billion worth of loans to smaller businesses across the UK. More than 105,000 loans have been issued, at an average value of £9,547.

Since 2012, small business owners in Scotland have secured more than £62 million of funding in almost 7,000 small business loans. On average, entrepreneurs have each received a funding boost of £9,165, along with additional mentoring support in areas like marketing, business development and business plan writing.

Scottish small businesses represent 6.2% of the total £1 billion of funding – in line with the 6% share of the UK’s business population.

Local breakdown of the loans 

Edinburgh has seen the largest proportion of funding delivered to smaller business owners in Scotland, with more than £9.5 million provided across 850 loans. Meanwhile entrepreneurs in Glasgow have received the highest number of loans, with £8.5 million shared amongst 970 business owners. 

Supporting under-represented groups

The Start Up Loans programme provides a means of reaching under-represented groups who are excluded from mainstream finance by helping them start businesses. 

Of the £1bn loans, nearly 40% have been lent to female business owners, with a total value of £371m, and 20% have been lent to people from Black, Asian and Other Ethnic Minority backgrounds (not including White Minorities), with a value of £201m.

Just 4% of the UK’s small businesses in 2021 were majority-led by people from an ethnic minority group and only 20% of new businesses had female founders according to The Rose Review. 

Backing 18-24s to start a business

Young people between 18-24 years old have received £106m (11%) in loans since the programme began.

70% of lending outside London & the South East

Of the £1bn provided to start ups, nearly 70% has gone to small businesses outside London and the South East.

Case study: Panther M*lk, Glasgow

One small business to benefit from the programme is Panther M*lk – an oat milk alcoholic cocktail brand based in Glasgow. The drinks business recently secured its first major retail listing, with bottles of the cocktail now stocked in 40 of Asda’s supermarkets across Scotland. Following an appearance on Dragon’s Den in 2022, founder Paul Crawford received a £17,500 loan through the Start Up Loans scheme to support his ambitious growth plans.

Paul said: “Securing our first retail listing was a huge step in our journey, but it’s just the start. With more consumers embracing a plant-based diet, we’ve been able to capitalise on our strong proposition of being the world’s first oat-drink based alcohol brand. Finance remains a critical element of our expansion plans, so we’re grateful to the British Business Bank and the Start Up Loans programme for supporting us at the beginning.”

Susan Nightingale, Devolved Nations Director at the British Business Bank, said: “Reaching this milestone really brings into perspective just how many early-stage businesses we’ve supported over the past ten years – and there are no signs of slowing down. Panther M*lk is a great example of a unique business that’s taken advantage of an untapped market, and we wish Paul and his team every success as they continue to grow the brand.

“The Start Up Loans scheme was established to provide smaller businesses from every region and sector with the finance and support they need in order to thrive. With nearly 7,000 loans delivered to start-ups across Scotland, it’s brilliant to see the difference this has made to the entrepreneurs who’ve taken the leap to turn their start-up ideas into a reality.”

The Start Up Loans programme has been shown to be value for money to the UK taxpayer, with an independent review showing the economic benefits of the scheme are 5.7 times the economic cost.

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