Mechelle Clark, founder of Melt Aberdeen
Thousands of people in Scotland have transformed their working lives and stimulated growth in the local economy by setting up their own business, according to new figures from the Start Up Loans Company.
New data from the government-backed programme shows it has lent almost £25m to people in Scotland to start small businesses since it launched six years ago.
A total of 3,484 startups in Scotland – and 59,021 across the UK – have received a low-interest startup loan from the Start Up Loans Company, with the average loan size in Scotland amounting to £7,112.
Mechelle Clark, 36, the founder of Melt Aberdeen, a gourmet cheese toastie business, received a loan of £25,000 to set up her own business in Aberdeen in March 2016.
After being made redundant from the oil and gas sector, Mechelle attended more than 60 job interviews before deciding to go it alone and set up her own business.
She used the Start Up Loan to open her first cheese toastie takeaway shop, based in Holburn Street, Aberdeen, which offers a variety of different cheese toasties, such as haggis and bacon and chilli cheese.
The business generated £84,000 in turnover in its first year of trading, which grew to £130,000 in its second year as a result of an increased demand in the local area.
Following this success, Mechelle crowdfunded £8,500 to launch what is believed will be Scotland’s first cheese restaurant.
The new restaurant, a ‘70s-style eatery which will open in February, features dishes made only from cheese sourced from Scotland, including lobster mac and cheese, whipped ricotta on sourdough, and prosciutto-wrapped halloumi.
Current fans of Melt Aberdeen include the actor Donald Sutherland, the Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow and Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon.
Talking about her success, Mechelle Clark said: “After the success of our first shop in Holburn Street, I knew there was an appetite for a restaurant with a focus on cheese. So I took a leap of faith and decided to crowdfund for additional finance to help me open a second store – something I didn’t think would be possible after starting less than three years ago.
“If you’d have asked me then whether I’d be running a successful business, I never would have thought it was possible. But luckily, our offering has really taken off and I’m excited to continue making delicious food for customers in Aberdeen and beyond.”
Jane Cormack, Product Development and Delivery Director at The Start Up Loans Company, said: “It’s fantastic to hear success stories from people like Mechelle who have started their own businesses across Scotland through our low-interest loans. The success of the scheme is down to the tenacity and ambition of our new business owners, who have taken the leap into self-employment.
“We wish Mechelle every success with opening her restaurant, and we look forward to supporting the growth of new business owners across Scotland and the rest of the UK.”
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