Programme: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme
With the majority of its trade coming through public stalls and events across London, Casa Cannoli has been severely hampered by the COVID-19 lockdown. Having no option but to close its outlets and furlough its staff, the business sought much-needed financial help through the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).
Read what it had to say in this CBILS case study.
British Business Bank: Can you tell us what your company does?
Dario Dendi, founder of Casa Cannoli: We’re a family-run business that aims to recreate an authentic experience of eating proper Sicilian cannoli here in London. We use the highest-quality ingredients, which we import from Sicily and other parts of Italy.
The coronavirus has affected a huge number of businesses across the UK. What problems were you facing as a result of the outbreak and what made you apply for CBILS support?
We sell our products at pop-ups and stalls, and all our outlets rely on footfall through major railway stations and markets. Our other main source of revenue is through events.
The coronavirus caused these routes to market to dry up immediately, forcing us to close all of our stalls and furlough our staff. We had overheads and we owed money to suppliers, as we’d stocked up in preparation for Brexit. As the virus took hold, this put the business and my relationships with suppliers under pressure.
To stay afloat, I had to rely on personal debt and high-cost, short-term borrowing. But that was unsustainable. If the business was going to survive, I needed funding.
How long did the application process take? Did you need any support?
The application process took a few weeks to complete.
I’d heard about CBILS in the press, but when my bank wasn’t willing to consider me for a loan, a personal contact recommended that I apply for funding through Ask Inclusive Finance (Askif).
Their promise is to deliver a ‘human touch’ and they really did. I felt that they were on my side, cared about my business and were invested in my future success. I couldn’t have asked for a more personal and professional service.
Securing the CBILS funding has given our business the boost it needed, ensuring our short-term survival and enhancing our long—term growth. I’m now confident we’ll emerge from the current situation stronger and more profitable.
Dario Dendi, founder of Casa Cannoli
What advice would you give to other businesses that are applying for a CBILS loan?
I’d thoroughly recommend talking to similar small businesses about their experiences in getting funding. Before I knew about CBILS, I was struggling to see an affordable way to sustain and grow my business. Accessing the scheme has taken a huge weight off my shoulders and I feel excited about future possibilities.
I’d also say don’t suffer in silence. There is help out there. A loan may not be the best solution for you, so look at all your options before deciding how to proceed. And try not to be too downhearted — this might be an opportunity to take your business in a new direction.
How has the CBILS loan helped your business to weather the outbreak? And what might have happened if you hadn’t received it?
The loan allows us to develop new product lines and expand our online and delivery business from London to nationwide. It also means our staff have jobs to come back to once we open again.
The interest-free repayments are affordable at such a difficult time. Not only can I sustain my business but I can keep a roof over my family’s head.
If I hadn’t been able to access the loan, it’s unlikely Casa Cannoli would’ve survived. And not meeting my financial commitments during this period would’ve made it harder to start another business in the future.