The early years: 1993-2001
DSL Business Finance was formed in 1993 in response to research into the difficulties faced by people from under-invested communities when attempting to access funding for new or existing businesses.
In response, the Glasgow Regeneration Fund (GRF) was established to provide microfinance to entrepreneurs in Glasgow. GRF raised more than £3 million from public and private-sector sponsors, including ERDF, Glasgow City Council and Scottish Enterprise Glasgow. The private sector also made significant financial contributions, including support from The Body Shop, Royal Bank of Scotland and British Petroleum.
GRF was formally wound up in June 2001, having invested more than £3 million in 372 “high risk” enterprises, creating 2126 new jobs and safeguarding more than 1000 existing jobs.
In 2001 we built on the success of GRF by developing two new funds: the Social Enterprise Fund (SEF) for social economy organisations; and the Western Scotland Regeneration Fund (WSRF). The funds were raised from ERDF, the Phoenix fund from the DTI and DSL’s first commercial loan from Unity Trust Bank.
Microcredit for women: 2001-2007
In 1999, £25,000 was ring-fenced from DSL’s budget to provide the initial loan fund for the The Glasgow Women’s Microcredit Project. This was managed in conjunction with the Wellpark Enterprise Centre which provided training to women and co-ordinated operations.
We provided the loan capital element of the project alongside advisory and fund management support. The programme was aimed at women who felt cautious about going into business on their own and those who had difficulty accessing capital for their existing business.
Due to the success of this local pilot, Scottish Enterprise developed and launched the successful National Microcredit Programme.
In 2004, Developing Strathclyde Ltd rebranded under the name DSL Business Finance. However, our philosophy about providing access to finance is still the same.
In the same year, we expanded to cover a wider area including Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire and Glasgow.
In 2008, due to demand, we expanded again to cover Edinburgh, Stirling, Falkirk, West Lothian, East Lothian and Midlothian.
In 2016, we launched the Scottish Microfinance Fund, which will be available until December 2018.