The Trust Loan Fund, a new initiative of Government, was conceptualized to evolve Barbados into a world leader in entrepreneurial development.
This was underscored yesterday as Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, addressed the launch of the Fund at Building #4 Suite 102, Harbour Road, St. Michael.
Speaking to an audience that included Acting Prime Minister George Payne; Chief Economic Counsellor, Ambassador Clyde Mascoll and Government’s Special Adviser on the Economy, Avinash Persaud, as well as several colleague parliamentarians, Mr. Sutherland noted the initiative was derived from a 21st century vision for Barbados.
Explaining, he said: “This vision embraces the adoption of innovative strategies, as well as new and modern approaches to economic growth and development. The goal is to transform the Barbadian economy by focusing on the creation of new wealth and building a more entrepreneurial Barbadian who is empowered and encouraged to take advantage of opportunities at home and abroad.”
Acknowledging this as Government’s concept behind the Trust Loan Fund and the aim of his Ministry and its strategic partners, he added: “The short-term objective is to create a framework that would maximize the income earning potential of individuals, with a more medium to long-term view of having a successful entrepreneur in every Barbadian household, which will ultimately allow for the penetration of the Barbados brand into regional and international markets.”
The process was explained as having involved rigorous discussions, consultations and debates inside and out of Cabinet regarding the establishment of a framework and supporting mechanisms for the operation of the Fund.
According to the Minister, it also entailed the development of a robust, transparent set of governance and operational protocols, an e-commerce platform, a training and development initiative in the form of a Financial Literacy Bureau, and the creation of entrepreneurial clusters, based on geographic location and supported by mentors.
Outlining key aspects of the Trust Loan Fund, Mr. Sutherland said it would comprise BDS$10 million on an annual basis and clients could qualify for loans of up to $5,000, with an opportunity to borrow twice the amount on successful repayment of the initial loan.
Elaborating on the latter, he said: “This is one of the reasons why it is important that beneficiaries of loans repay in accordance with the established terms, which affords borrowers a moratorium of a few months, before they start to repay the loans.”
Obtaining a Trust Loan will begin with the completion and submission of the relevant application form, which is available on the website www.trustloansbb.com. The form, which is said to be simple and easy to understand, also seeks to obtain vital personal and business-related information from clients that is considered “very useful” to authorities.
While emphasising that the form was designed to assist the formulation of public policy pertaining to entrepreneurship here, the Small Business Minister declared: “Not only will it allow Government to build up a database regarding applicants, but it will also facilitate the formation of the geographical clusters, as well as bridge some gaps that currently exist regarding micro-level data for the small business sector in Barbados.”
It was also noted that opportunities would likely exist for some recently retrenched public officers, encouraged to form business partnerships and companies, to benefit from the Trust Loans.
And, those gathered heard too that clients would receive counselling from the application stage; be sensitized by Trust Loan Officers to the importance of properly managing the loan and provided with other basic financial and business-related advice.
As the programme develops, Mr. Sutherland said, the unit would partner with other business support organisations for financial, business and technical assistance.
The ceremony also saw the cutting of the ribbon to declare the unit open at Building #4 Suite 102, and Junior Howell, owner of Irie Kids, filling out the Fund’s first application form.