The Trust Loan Fund was launched yesterday, with Acting Prime Minister, George Payne, describing it as “a mirror image” of a small loans programme implemented by the Urban Development Commission and the Rural Development Commission when he was Minister of Housing, in a previous administration.
The Acting Prime Minister was speaking at the launch of the Fund at Building #4 Suite 102, Harbour Road, St. Michael, the facility where it is expected to be located temporarily.
Recalling the previous programme, he said during that period over 10,000 loans were disbursed and it helped to transform the lives of many small businessmen and women in this country. Of the present one, he said, it was the culmination of many strategic planning exercises undertaken by Government, when in Opposition.
“We were concerned about the obvious plight of potential entrepreneurs in this country; persons who, for one reason or another had stopped dreaming…. We listened, we heard, and we took heed. It was out of that care, understanding and respect for equality of opportunity that the $10 million Trust Loan concept emerged,” he explained.
Pointing out that Government’s efforts extended beyond simply providing low-cost, hassle-free loans to entrepreneurs, the Acting Prime Minister said that in order for a culture of entrepreneurship to truly pervade the Barbadian landscape, Government needed to provide “a comprehensive enabling framework” for small entrepreneurial business development.
He noted that over the short to medium term there would be other support mechanisms. They would include an interactive and user-friendly website; a financial Literacy Bureau to assist in ensuring that entrepreneurs are financially savvy and understand the basic rudiments of money and business management; a mobile phone app that would allow applicants to complete their application, accept deposits, and make payments, among other features; and a community-based cluster initiative to promote business camaraderie, innovation, experience and knowledge-sharing.
Stressing that the ultimate success of local entrepreneurs as a commercial class required more than these enabling mechanisms, Mr. Payne added that the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce had already begun considering how the Trust Loan initiative and the Financial Literacy Bureau, in particular, could be incorporated into the wider Small Business Development Centre Network.
Commending Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland and his staff for delivering the Fund “in good time”, he acknowledged it would assist small entrepreneurs in their efforts to become successful businessmen and women and urged those who sought to benefit from the exercise to ensure that repayments of their loans were “made on time”.
The Acting Prime Minister stressed further that the Trust Loan, together with the non-criminalisation of vendors, were all part of Government’s many transformational initiatives.
From Monday, November 5, the office at Harbour Road will be open for business, and within a matter of a few months, two additional offices at Speightstown and Oistins will follow. The three are expected to ultimately provide core business facilitation services to clients, but for the time being, the Bridgetown office will make financial disbursements.