|Prime Minister Freundel Stuart|
Government has ramped up its efforts to provide assistance to the small business sector as a way of building on the solid foundations laid by previous administrations.
Prime Minister Freundel Stuart reiterated government’s commitment to the sector while addressing the Small Business Association’s Awards Ceremony and Dinner to mark the end of Small Busines Week 2012, recently.?? The event was held at Hilton Barbados.
One of the organisations which has assisted many Barbadians in realising their dream of being their own boss since 2008 Mr. Stuart said, was Fund Access which has approved loans to the tune of $16.64 million or 46 per cent of its loan portfolio since its inception in 1998.
These funds were disbursed to 335 clients or 32 per cent of those for whom loans were approved since 1998, while additional loans were given to 30 businesses and 78 loans given for refinancing.
"Since 2008, Fund Access has given 443 loans which were responsible for the creation of 527 jobs," Mr. Stuart disclosed.
He further added: "Remarkably, during the last year, the loan portfolio for Fund Access increased by 33 per cent, moving from an average of $3 million per year to $5 million.?? The period of economic downturn notwithstanding, the delinquency rate was just 19 per cent and there were no business closures."
The Prime Minister alluded to other developments in the sector including the national Micro Enterprise Programme which provided grants of up to $3,000 to start-up and establish small businesses to procure equipment, products and other inputs. Of the $1.3 million allocated so far, 382 businesses have been assisted and 792 jobs created of which 603 are full-time and 189 part-time.
Also in 2009, Mr. Stuart said government instituted a procurement policy that directed all government agencies to allocate 40 per cent of their procurement to the small business sector.????
He also outlined the benefits of the Trade Receivables Facility also known as factoring, which facilitated the payment of outstanding invoices to those small businesses that delivered goods or services to central government.?? This facility had been expanded to include statutory corporations and credit unions in 2012 as announced in the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals. ??
Mr. Stuart also mentioned the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s small business facility which was responsible for establishing 190 jobs in return for an investment of $2.68 million.
Moreover, he also praised the Rural Development Commission for approving 254 loans totaling $1.415 million, saying this investment had led to the creation of 344 jobs.
"Let me reiterate government’s commitment to the development of the small business sector.?? The existing initiatives and others to be undertaken by government, are all aimed at fostering the type of entrepreneurial culture for Barbados that would see new businesses being created, which are both successful and lasting," Mr. Stuart underlined.