The Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) has approved 2,800 loans amounting to $13.3 million, and processed 3,500 loans.
Business Development Officer, Kirk Dottin, disclosed this on Monday night as he made his contribution to the Straight Talk – Open for Business forum, hosted by the Ministry of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, in conjunction with the Small Business Development Unit at the Alexandra School, Queens Street, St. Peter.
The aim of the exercise was to enlighten residents and business owners about the role of the Ministry and the likely benefits of We Gatherin’ 2020.
While Mr. Dottin emphasized that there was still a high number pending to be disbursed, he said these figures said a lot in terms of persons’ interest in starting a loan and opening a business. Pointing out that the fund catered to both start-ups as well as existing businesses, he added: “The higher percentage of those would include persons doing startups, and we have a high number of graduates from university wanting to open businesses, not in their traditional field of studies.
“But we have lawyers and engineers going into agriculture; and they are using that particular expertise and the training to enhance the particular venture that they are going into. But in addition to the financing, what is key would be the training for entrepreneurs and the financial literacy aspect at the Trust Loan, that is what we try to get across to persons.”
The Business Development Officer, who noted the success rate of most businesses depended on how well one managed the business component of it (the finances), said it was precisely for this reason why the Trust Loan (as it is also referred to) was focusing on the financial literacy of individuals.
While stating that the fund offered a holistic programme, by also providing the necessary training, he said it was set to launch a Business Development Unit which would be responsible “for going out there and handholding the clients”.
“At the Trust Loan, we are focusing heavily on the financial literacy aspect of it, for it is key to the success, whereas management of the business finance and management of your personal finance,” he stressed.
Reminding prospective applicants and persons still paying loans that the interest rate was five per cent on the reducing balance, Mr. Dottin added: “We lend up to a maximum of $10,000, but initially we loaned up to $5,000, and for you to graduate to the $10,000, there are some key performance indicators [to meet], namely reasonable pay back of the loan; attending the mandatory training sessions and meeting regularly with the Business Development Officer, so that we can gauge the performance and the progress of the business before we actually graduate you up to the $10,000, or even pass you on to FundAccess or a credit union or even to a commercial bank. So, it is a graduation process that we are offering here.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, in commending the BTFL, said: “We as a Government saw the need to inject some capital within this economy for small businesses, and we started the Barbados Trust Fund Limited. And, we provided seed capital, a small amount of capital of up to $5,000 for small businesses because we recognized that within our country these small businesses, the opportunity to get a loan from the bank, was proving very risky due to what we call “asymmetric information” because what the banks required the small businesses don’t have, in terms of guarantees and what we call collateral as well.
“So, we saw the need as a Government to ignite this sector and that is why we started the Trust Loan. After one year we had some 2,500 recipients of loans, and that is what we intend to do in building out this sector in providing not only seed capital, but providing the technical support.”