The enterprising spirit of Dario Greenidge was last night applauded by Small Business Minister, Dwight Sutherland, as he addressed the official opening of the young man’s business, the Shine Automotive Autobox Retail Store at Carlton Plaza, Black Rock, St. Michael.
Referring to him as “an innovator”, who belonged to the micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector, which was responsible for around 40 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product, the Minister said Mr. Greenidge started out as a car washer in 2010, and by 2018 had launched a car cleaning product of his own, at a time when access to finance or capital was challenging.
Acknowledging that Barbados has capital in the form of “some $9 million in savings” in bank deposits, and accumulating interest of less than one per cent, he lamented that owners of MSMEs, like Mr. Greenidge, could not access these funds and were often deemed ‘unbankable’.
However, the Minister noted that government entities such as FundAccess and the Trust Loan Unit were to be congratulated for coming to the rescue of these businesses.
Stating that FundAccess had provided assistance to some 750 new businesses, he said it had also helped over 840 businesses to expand, and since 1998, had distributed over 2000 loans at a value of $64.5 million to small businesses in Barbados.
Mr. Sutherland disclosed that Government was working on a partnership with the Barbados Stock Exchange to create the Junior Stock Exchange/Innovation and Growth Market, where small businesses would have the opportunity to have investors.
“You will be trading on the Stock Exchange for the first time, and we want to create the regulatory environment where investors can own 30 per cent of your business, once you have a capitalization of over $200,000 and up,” he said.
He stated that Government was also seeking to create a digital wallet through partnering with a telecommunications provider. This, he said, would provide a level of digital money where persons could utilize their card services and phones to pay for products and services in this country.
Meanwhile, Mr. Greenidge, in thanking FundAccess, alluded to his own issues with the banking system.
“The banks have hundreds of millions of our money stored in them and they lend it unfortunately to who they think will be a success; who they think will repay them and who they think will not pack up and leave. But the truth is that it is the average black entrepreneur who has an idea, who has a business that just needs that little support, that little nudge [with someone saying] ‘you know what, I am going to bet on you’. It is just those kinds of entities that the banks need to evaluate and support.”
The young entrepreneur stated that there should be a platform created where the average individual could take his/her money and “invest it in a pool that is managed by FundAccess and then used to invest in micro and small enterprise”.