Natalie Ferguson with Luigi and Nadia Di Vaio serve up success thanks to support from the Scottish Microfinance Fund.

Natalie Ferguson with Luigi and Nadia Di Vaio serve up success thanks to support from the Scottish Microfinance Fund.

Scottish Microfinance Fund helps emerging entrepreneurs turn dreams into reality

The Scottish Microfinance Fund (SMF) exists to create jobs and stimulate enterprise in Scotland by providing businesses with business loans of up to £25,000.

Café Bellina in Edinburgh is one business that is now booming thanks to support from the Scottish Microfinance Fund. Struggling to raise funding through traditional routes, the enterprise secured a small business loan which has helped bring an authentic Italian café culture to the Scottish capital.

Located on Elm Row in Edinburgh city centre, the thriving Café Bellina is receiving rave reviews from locals and visitors alike who applaud the business for its culinary offerings and customer service. Offering everything from cakes and arancini to pasta, pastries and paninis the menu is made with passion and attention to detail and it is proving a real hit.

Originally from Naples, Nadia Di Vaio had a dream to own her own business and bring an authentic taste of Italy to Scotland. With friend and Scottish native Natalie Ferguson and brother Luigi the trio conceived the idea to bring homemade Italian specialties to Edinburgh, served in an environment which makes customers feel at home. Yet despite Café Bellina’s success, the fledgling entrepreneurs initially struggled to secure the funding they needed to get the business started.

Nadia said: “Finding the finance to open a cafe was not easy, one bank completely ignored our request for a loan and a second one refused our application.  We were pointed to Business Gateway who thankfully referred us to DSL Business Finance which runs the Scottish Microfinance Fund. We met with Nicola, an excellent loan officer in Glasgow, who helped us develop our business plan and to present our business growth project to a panel. This resulted in a loan, and the opening of Café Bellina.

“It's great that the Scottish Microfinance Fund provides emerging entrepreneurs who may not be able to access traditional finance the chance to follow their dreams. It really made a difference to Café Bellina and Nicola still follows our progress as a business mentor.”

The Scottish Microfinance Fund is delivered by DSL Business Finance Ltd on behalf of the Scottish Government with support from ERDF and the Start Up Loans Company for whom DSL is the only Scottish based delivery partner. The fund provides loans of up to £25,000 to businesses in Scotland. It is encouraging both new and established businesses to take the leap into entrepreneurship. Successful applicants will sign-up to a competitive interest rate of 6% and will not be burdened by arrangement fees or early repayment fees.

The application process for the Scottish Microfinance Fund is simple, quick and effective and if you do not meet the criteria for a SMF loan, DSL has other funding options available.  Our friendly and knowledgeable team can talk you through everything you need to know and give you the support you need every step of the way. Give us a call on 0141 425 2930 or visit our website to find out more.