The Barbados government says it will soon establish a Trust Loan Fund that would provide financial support to people starting up new businesses.
Small Business Entrepreneurship and Commerce Minister, Dwight Sutherland, said that within “four weeks’ time, we intend to be in a position to offer the first loan.
“And, indeed, it won’t be one loan because we know that the flood gates would be open. We would put the necessary infrastructure in place to accommodate people from all trade, all sectors of business and all parts of the country,” he said, adding that the Mia Mottley administration intends to decentralise the Trust Loan system.
Sutherland said the new initiative would be separate from FundAccess, which provides financing up to BDS$150,000 (One Barbados dollar=US$0.50 cents).
He said the government’s new initiative would provide a start-up loan of BDS$5,000, with the possibility of an additional BDS$5,000 on conditions that the individual establishes a good credit rating and repays the initial loan.
“After that, we will graduate you to FundAccess,” Sutherland stated, adding that government was just giving a start and providing the framework through which business could grow in the country.
The Small Business Minister pointed out that persons would not be required to provide guarantors, seek references from the bank or even state where they were employed.
“We assume once you have registered your business, and we will help you do that too, you come to us, we say ‘yes’. It is a given that once you have an established business or a registered business, a small business, or you are an entrepreneur you would get the funding that you need…
“Just proof of address, the business that has been registered and you would get money. We trust you and that is why it is called the Trust Loan Fund. So, you must trust us as well… It is built around trust and around us saying ‘Yes’ to you and you will get the money to grow the business,” he said.
Sutherland said that the new initiative comes against the backdrop of persons being unable to secure funding from commercial banks.
“So, we have set the policy framework whereby more businesses can come and start – $5,000 Trust Loan and that gives you a start; it also helps you to build your credit rating,” Sutherland said, adding that these entities could include supermarkets, hair dressers’ salons, barber shops as well as mechanic and body workshops.
The Small Business Minister also noted that there would be a training component to the new initiative, “teaching them how to grow their businesses”.
He said that a new entity called a Financial Literacy Bureau, would teach persons how to manage and market their business, as well as provide excellent customer service.
“It is a shift in how we as a government view small business or how we intend to grow this economy through small businesses. That is the framework and policy initiatives that we have put in place. We are not only providing the loan, but we are setting up something,” Sutherland said.