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Financial boost for start-up ventures in Highland and Moray

31st July 2014

Entrepreneurs in Highland and Moray are now able to access personal loans to help start their own business thanks to the new government-funded Start-Up Loans scheme which is locally delivered by Business Gateway and Highland Opportunity.

For Moray businesses, this is an especially important development. It is the first funding scheme available through the Business Gateway Moray service.

Loans are available to fund businesses that have not yet started trading, or have been trading for less than 12 months, and that cannot get finance through a bank. There is no arrangement fee for the loan, and the interest rate is fixed at 6%. Applicants must be UK residents, based in the UK, and over 18.

Loans will be available through Business Gateway - a lead partner in this new initiative from the Start Up Loans Company (SULCo). Highland Opportunity will be assessing applications and recommending the loans.

Marie Mackintosh, Chief Executive of Highland Opportunity said: "This new Start-Up Loans scheme is a welcome addition to the existing services Highland Opportunity offers - including Highland Opportunity loan funds, Business Gateway, Enterprise Europe Network, and Prince's Trust Youth Business Scotland.

"Whilst the approval of a loan is ultimately decided by SULCo, our Business Gateway team will help clients to develop their business ideas, plans and skills, and Highland Opportunity will be assessing and recommending applicants to SULCo - increasing their chances of success. We have already had several applicants for this scheme who are progressing well with our assistance, and we look forward to welcoming more."

Start-Up Loans is a national scheme, and there are other delivery partners offering these loans in Highland and Moray. Highland Opportunity and Business Gateway are uniquely placed, however, to offer a range of assistance and have unrivalled experience of providing local business support that will not only help clients to find the funding best suited to them, but to support them to make their business a success.

Highland Opportunity has been providing business loans and support for Highland businesses for nearly 30 years and awarded £557,500 of loans last year. Its Business Gateway Highland and Moray staff also have extensive experience of assisting new businesses - helping over 380 businesses to start-up last year.

Wick councillor Bill Fernie, a director on the board of Highland Opportunity Ltd said, " This offers another opportunity for north businesses in particular at time when a huge amount of activity is taking place in the Caithness economy from announcement about the Beatrice wind Farm to school building and infrastructure projects in Wick. Starting a new business is not easy but with this additional source of finance available it may mean more can get started and put their ideas into action."

Councillor Thomas Prag, Chairman of The Highland Council's Planning, Development and Infrastructure Committee and Vice-Chair of the Highland Opportunity Board, said: "This is a fantastic example of Highland and Moray Councils proactively working together to support local businesses and the local economy. Through our Business Gateway services, we are confident that clients will receive the highest standard of impartial and local support every step of the way: from guidance through the process and securing a loan, to developing a robust business plan, to skills training, to launching a sustainable enterprise, to ongoing support to help make their business a success. We are all eager to see the results."

Councillor John Cowe, Chair of the Economic Development and Infrastructure Services Committee, Moray Council, said: "It is brilliant to see the launch of a scheme that is designed to assist new businesses, support the local economy, and stimulate enterprise and job creation. This provision of financial assistance through Business Gateway is new in Moray, and a very welcome development. I look forward to hearing about the new ventures this scheme assists and the benefits it, along with our existing services, brings to our area."

Highland businesses can find their local office at or by calling the Inverness office on 01463 713889.

Moray businesses can contact the Elgin office on 01343 563634 or can find out more at

Contact information to find out more -

All of Moray - Elgin office: 01343 563634
Inverness and Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey, Ross-shire – Inverness office: 01463 713889
Sutherland – Bonar Bridge office: 01863 766128
Caithness – Wick office: 01955 605360
Skye & Lochalsh – Portree office: 01478 611501
Lochaber – Fort William office: 07787 283216

Background information
Highland Opportunity is the Enterprise Trust for the Highlands and the business support arm of The Highland Council.

Business Gateway is the national business support service that is delivered by local authorities. In Highland and Moray, this service is delivered on behalf of The Highland Council and Moray Council by Highland Opportunity.
The Highland Council and Moray Council signed a Memorandum of Understanding formalising Business Gateway and Highland Opportunity's delivery of the Start-Up Loans scheme in July.
Start Up Loans is a government-funded national scheme that funds and mentors entrepreneurs. The Start Up Loan Company works through a national distribution network of Delivery Partners who operate across the UK – of which Business Gateway is one.

All loans ultimately need to be approved by SULCo, but Business Gateway will help applicants develop their business ideas and skills, and Highland Opportunity will be recommending loans to SULCo. This will increase their chances of success.


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