Glasgow-based alternative finance firm hails £6m support for Scots firms - supporting 1,200-plus jobs

Not-for-profit lender DSL Business Finance has hailed a record 2020/21, providing funding of nearly £6 million altogether to smaller firms and social enterprises in Scotland, up from £4.5m in 2019.

The Glasgow-headquartered alternative finance provider said it supported enterprise north of the Border during the pandemic by continuing to provide loans to both start-up and growing businesses “that would not generally be able to access traditional sources of funding”.

Between July 2020 and June 2021, DSL provided loans to about 200 start-ups and growing businesses in Scotland. The average loan size grew to £28,539, an increase of more than £8,000 from the previous year.

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“Crucially, this funding allowed 1,020 jobs to be maintained and 211 were created,” the organisation added – saying it is providing a "much-needed” boost to the Scottish economy.

DSL has helped accelerate Stirling Bodyshop with a business loan of £25,000. Picture: contributed.

DSL added that overall growth over the past five years has seen it increase its lending amount by more than £5m, with double the number of loans being granted each month compared to in 2016.

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On top of its own funding of £5.6m across 199 investments in Scotland, DSL has leveraged £3.42m in co-financing from the private sector and a further £140,000 from the public sector.

'We see ourselves as having a vital role to play in supporting Scotland’s economy,' says Stuart Yuill, DSL’s executive director. Picture: contributed.

During September 2020, experienced vehicle bodywork expert Derek Rae approached DSL to seek loan funding to help start Stirling Bodyshop, aiming to offer vehicle repair and painting services to private and trade businesses.

DSL provided him with a business loan of £25,000, which was used to finance the set-up costs of moving into premises, and pay for marketing materials for the initial launch. Mr Rae has been able to grow Stirling Bodyshop over the past year, securing a regular and consistent client base.

Lifeline

Stuart Yuill, DSL’s executive director, said: “During these unprecedented times we have remained open for business and are proud that we have been able to offer a lifeline to many clients.

“We see ourselves as having a vital role to play in supporting Scotland’s economy to maximise growth opportunities as we recover from Covid-19. In particular, we are delighted that our work has allowed 1,020 individuals to remain employed and brought new job opportunities to a further 211 individuals.

“Throughout the past year we have provided new loans to many deserving businesses that are highly unlikely to have received funding elsewhere, particularly in the current climate. It’s incredibly impressive to see how these businesses have adapted and diversified their offering, in many cases improving beyond their original ideas.

“We are continuing to build on the record year we had in 2020/21, providing loan funding to organisations and entrepreneurs that would otherwise struggle to either start a new business or keep their existing business afloat in the current climate.”

Since April 2020 DSL has been implementing process changes to overcome logistical challenges faced as a consequence of Covid-19, including developing technology to allow documentation to be completed online.

It also integrated with the Start-up Loan Company’s Atlas system to allow new clients to apply for loans online, which has now been adopted as a permanent practice. The lender also offered clients payment holidays or reductions and ongoing support from loan officers during the peak of the restrictions.

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