Nursery nets expansion cash

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A DERELICT care home in West Calder has been transformed into a nursery after a city business came up with a novel way to raise funds.

Sharon Fairley, managing director of We Care for Children – the group which runs Little Flyers nurseries across the Capital – came up with the idea of borrowing £35,000 from online investors, after her dream of turning Bedford House into a centre for children was almost shattered by the bank.

They refused to give her the loan she required to enhance her business, but rather than give up, the group embarked on an innovative way to raise capital.

Ms Fairley came across the website LendingCrowd, based in Edinburgh, which matches backers looking for a return on their investments.

She said: “When the banks are consistently refusing to provide you with a loan, you start to doubt your business and your ambitions for it to grow and succeed.

“Thankfully the website shared my vision, enthusiasm and belief in the project.

“They have been fantastic in helping me pitch to potential investors and provide the tailored information that they really needed.”

Crowdfunding has been the buzzword of online money-making schemes, but crowd­lending is a much newer phenomenon.

Crowdfunding sees donors giving money as an altruistic act, generally to start-up companies and arts projects.

However, crowdlending means that backers gain a return on their investments.

Little Flyers nursery chain provides day care and out-of-school services for more than 300 children between the ages of three months and 12 years.

The new nursery in West Calder opened its doors last week, and can provide childcare for up to 80 children.

A spokeswoman from Little Flyers in West Calder said: “The first week has been fantastic – the reception we have had from the community has been amazing.”

We Care For Children has been in operation for 15 years and secured its £35,000 target for the new property in just eight weeks,

It has six facilities in the city and across West Lothian.

Stuart Lunn, chief executive of LendingCrowd, claimed the trend was likely to spread across the city.

courtney.cameron@edinburghnews.com