Small businesses are on the fast track with finance from the Development Bank of Wales

Micro Loans Fund Manager

An 18th Century Inn, a Spanish tapas bar and an African food store are just some of the 73 Welsh businesses that accessed over £1.3 million of fast track micro loans from the Development Bank of Wales  in the financial year to date (April to December 2021) 

Small businesses, sole traders and social enterprises that have been trading in Wales for over two years can apply for a fast track micro loan of up to £25,000 from the Development Bank of Wales. Decisions on qualifying customer loans can be made within two working days.  

The  figure of £1.32 million represents an increase of more than 30% compared to the same period in 2020 when fast track loans totalled £986,000 , demonstrating the appetite of small businesses for growth capital to invest as the economy recovers from the Covid-19 pandemic.  

A fast track loan of £25,000 has helped Carmarthen-based Cutting Edge Mechanics to take advantage of new dealership opportunities with the purchase of stock and a trailer. Established in 2016 by owner Alun James, the business is an independent stockist and repairer of specialist arborist and gardening equipment.   

Alun said: “The opportunity arose to take on a new dealership. It was a great move for us but we needed to invest in new stock and a trailer in order to take advantage of the opportunity. £25,000 is a lot of money to find as a small business so getting a quick decision on a loan from the Development Bank of Wales was just what we needed. It was an easy and straight forward process which meant that I could get the order placed with the dealers and agree the purchase of a new trailer quickly. The excellent service meant that we could get ready for the new season and now look forward to growing the business further.”  

Ele’s Little Kitchen is a catering company based in Gorseinon providing traditional Spanish cuisine. Run by Elena Pardo who is originally from Murcia, the business was first set-up from home to cater for parties, business events and weddings. An £8,000 fast track loan from the Development Bank has enabled Elena to relocate to new restaurant premises on High Street, Gorseinon. The popular tapas bar now offers both take-away and delivery.  

Elena said: “I am passionate about cooking and love Mediterranean cuisine. Our secret is based on traditional Spanish flavours with a modern twist and it’s so good to now have our own little tapas bar here in Gorseinon. It really is a dream come true thanks to the support of the Development Bank.”  

African food store SunBim Foods is based in the heart of Newport. Owner Sunday Omuju sells a wide variety of African food products, some of which are now made on site after he secured a £12,000 fast track loan from the Development Bank which has been used to purchase an industrial oven so customers can now enjoy freshly baked goods.  

Sunday said: “Our family business is going from strength to strength as we invest in our products and the range of fresh food that we can offer our customers. Access to finance has been really important for us as we couldn’t invest in the business without the support of the Development Bank. We’re also very grateful that they made the application process so easy and quick. It’s made a massive difference.”  

Elain Molloy and Peter Maull own Tafarn y Waen, an 18th century inn near St Asaph. A fast track loan of £20,000 from the Development Bank has been used to help diversify income by transforming the popular but remote pub into boutique guesthouse accommodation with hot-tubs. A small caravan site has also been created.  

Elaine said: “We would never have survived this last 18 months let alone be thinking about future growth and success if it weren’t for the loan from the Development Bank. The money has enabled us to diversify and future-proof the business with investment in our accommodation. We’ve created an attractive destination that will secure the long-term survival of Tafarn y Waen as an historic, rural establishment.”  

Nicola Edwards of the Development Bank of Wales said: “Providing much needed community and social support, our fast track loans are certainly making a big difference to small businesses and traders the length and breadth of Wales with many telling us that they really appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of our application process plus the speed at which the funds are received.”  

“Now more than ever, businesses need quick and easy access to sustainable and flexible finance to help them invest in the future. Those in catering and hospitality have had a particularly difficult time over the last two years while many tradespeople are looking for funding to help their recovery and growth. It’s testament to the dedication and future ambition of business owners across all sectors in Wales that so many have come forward to get the funding that they need to invest in their businesses, scale up and accelerate growth.” 

The £30 million Wales Micro Loan Fund is financed entirely by the Welsh Government. Loans between £1,000 and £50,000 are available with repayment terms ranging between one and ten years.