As Fintech advances at a rate of knots across Scotland and the world, innovation and change must be embraced - but not at the expense of building strong relationships. For all businesses, it is more important than ever to establish, build and maintain personal connections with clients.
At the heart of our work at DSL is setting people up for success. Established in 1993, DSL Business Finance is an alternative finance provider offering loans of up to £50,000 to startup and growing businesses and social enterprises in Scotland.
Whatever the venture is, each of our clients is invested in thereby creating opportunities for the people in their communities. Since 2016, DSL has lent over £8million to 435 enterprises, creating and maintaining more than 1400 jobs.
These ripples of impact begin with our dedication to connect and build personal relationships with our clients. We have seen over the years how putting people first enhances communities and helps build sustainable local businesses.
Excellent ethical food
DSL gave vegetarian and vegan Café Kombucha in Elgin in Moray a loan £15,000 last year. The venue reopened in November following a major refurbishment. It is now well established and has become highly regarded among locals and visitors for excellent food and service.
Owner Sarah Doonan, said: “The loan and personal support I received from DSL has allowed me to grow my business and fill a need in the market in Moray for great vegan and vegetarian food. I’m delighted with the development of the café, which this funding made possible.”
Cafe for the community
In Inverness, a loan to create a community cafe has led to more employment in the area. We provided funding to Kevin Paterson so he could realise his dream of opening his own community café. Kevin launched Utopia Café in the Hilton area of Inverness in April 2019, and has already seen the positive impact of the cafe on his community.
The £25,000 loan Kevin received from DSL enabled him to get Utopia Cafe up and running. The money has gone directly toward stock, initial working capital, and a full refurbishment of the unit - and has created four new jobs as a result. "I haven't looked back," Kevin says. "There is a now a real buzz around what I'm doing at the cafe. It's been more successful than I had hoped. I've been getting excellent reviews!"
In East Kilbride, DSL provided £25,000 to Sam Alves to purchase his father’s business Café Ricos. Sam had been working and managing the business for five years while his father focused on another catering business. The café was refurbished and has a new Portuguese inspired menu to reflect his father’s heritage.
Sam said: “Having worked at my father’s café for five years I was really pleased to get the opportunity to buy the business. This was made possible thanks to funding from DSL which also allowed me to refurbish the café in East Kilbride and welcome existing and new clientele.”
Getting kids reading
Recently Alexander McCabe, a successful Falkirk based writer of children’s books, received loan finding to assist with stock and short term working capital and described the experience with DSL as “absolutely brilliant.” Alexander said: “DSL, especially Loan Officer Nicola Cosgrove, took time to understand my business and also challenged me in a really positive way.”
Responsible business: marrying funding and personal connection
In the start-up and growing business market, it's very much about people - but those who marry a strong business plan while maintaining this entrepreneur's enthusiasm are setting themselves up for success. "At DSL we aim to ensure our clients own their business plan and really do understand the numbers," said Stuart Yuill, DSL Business Finance Executive Director. "That makes their plans more robust."
“Proving loan funding is not just about an applicant’s character, desire and realising their dream,” Stuart continued. “It’s also about ensuring all lenders lend responsibly to people who have a great understanding of their business and the best way to do that is to make that personal connection. For DSL, it’s still very much about the people.”
We embrace Fintech but we will, as Burns said, ‘Ne’er forget the people.’