The British Business Bank (BBB) has identified Scotland as an entrepreneurial hub after total lending to Scottish microbusinesses through its start-up scheme topped £26 million.
Data published today by the BBB shows that its Start Up Loans programme has issued more than 3,500 loans to Scottish entrepreneurs, at an average of £7,200 each, since its launch in June 2012.
This amounts to a total lending facility of more than £26.6m north of the Border.
The government-backed scheme, run through BBB subsidiary The Start Up Loans Company, provides personal loans for business purposes of up to £25,000, along with free mentoring and support to recipients.
It has delivered more than £468m of funding through 61,000 loans nationwide. Entrepreneurs in Wales have received the highest average amount of all UK regions over the last six years, with 2,718 loans issued at an average of £8,835.
Around 39 per cent of entrepreneurs granted loans through the scheme were formerly unemployed or “economically inactive”, and the BBB credits the scheme for contributing to the creation of more than 60,000 UK jobs.
Among the recipients in Scotland was Mechelle Clark, founder of toastie maker Melt Aberdeen, who received a £20,000 loan to launch the city’s first grilled cheese sandwich shop in March 2016.
The firm now generates annual turnover in excess of £150,000. For the past year, Clark has also been operating a travelling “Meltmobile” and is due to launch a second store at the beginning of May.
Clark, who had been made redundant from her previous role working in the oil and gas industry, said: “I saw there was a gap in the market in Aberdeen to try something different.
“There have been challenges along the way, such as the collapse of the local economy hit by the struggling oil and gas industry, but the financial backing I received from the Start Up Loans Company has helped my business grow from strength to strength. The mentoring scheme they offer has also been a bonus.”
Jenny Donnellan, UK network director for the devolved nations at the BBB, said: “This is a landmark achievement for Start Up Loans in Scotland and it is a real testament to the hard work, commitment and entrepreneurship of business founders across the country.
“This national loans and mentoring scheme has enabled thousands of aspiring business owners across Scotland to start a business, grow it, and create jobs.”
In the November Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced that the Start Up Loans scheme would be extended with a target of 10,000 additional loans being issued in the year to April 2021.