The Barbados Agency for Micro Enterprise Development Limited, also known as FundAccess, will shortly be rolling out some new business products.
This disclosure has come from Fund Access’ General Manager, Esther Lord-Graham, who said a Business Youth package and a secured Line of Credit would be introduced, as well as an Exquisite Loan Payment, which would allow clients to pay according to their revenue cycle.
In an interview with the Barbados Government Information Service (BGIS), Mrs. Lord-Graham said that as business needs evolved, FundAccess had been keeping abreast of what was happening and making the necessary changes to ensure the organisation remained current.
“Right now, persons don’t need only the typical loan, so we try to develop our products to suit what is happening. For instance, we are looking at things like loans with exquisite payments. For example, you are in the tourism industry so you know that there’s a period of time – November to April during the tourist season – when you will be making more money, and can afford higher payments. Then, for the rest of the year, you will have lower payments because the season has passed.
“The same thing with farmers where you have a rotation of crops, and instead of every month, you get income every six weeks. So, your payments would be modified to suit your income cycle. With regard to the Business Youth package, which will be launched shortly, it will cater to persons up to 25 years old,” she explained.
FundAccess opened its doors to the public on January 2, 1998. Mrs. Lord-Graham disclosed that at August 31, the agency had disbursed $72,632,538 to 1,706 clients, and created 2,581 job opportunities for Barbadians.
She said it offers loans to the micro and small business sectors, and outlined some of the loan packages available as:
- Business Boost – for first time entrepreneurs or those in business for less than a year. Persons can borrow up to $25,000.
- Business Escalator – for farmers, manufacturers, contractors, and hospitality traders. They can borrow up to $150,000.
- Business Pro – for professionals, such as lawyers and doctors, who are setting up their own practices. They can borrow up to $100,000.
- Business Innovator – caters to those in the creative sector/cultural industries, and up to $150,000 may be borrowed.
Business Facilitator – covers those in distribution, retail and services, and up to $100,000 may be obtained.
The General Manager stated that in addition to disbursing the loan, FundAccess provides vital assistance to help the business develop during its early existence. “In order to access credit, every client must agree to participate in a two-day micro enterprise training programme. This aspect is deemed to be critical, and no funds will be disbursed until the client successfully completes the training.
“The training covers topics such as Customer Service, Book Keeping, Cash Management, Record Keeping, Costing and Pricing, Marketing, and honouring commitment. Each client is assigned a business development officer, who visits within the first three months of the loan being disbursed. They will check to make sure the client is doing whatever they are supposed to do to make the business a success,” she said.
Mrs. Lord-Graham added that clients could attend training sessions or ask officers for advice beyond the life span of the loan. She pointed out that FundAccess’ clients could receive grant funding to use for unexpected events, and even additional training.
“Let’s say you have a piece of equipment and it broke down suddenly, we can give you grant funding to get that equipment repaired or replaced. If you started your business in one particular area, but you need to either expand the services or do that business a different way, then grant funding can be given.
“During the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to give grant funding to clients, for example barbers and hairdressers, who needed to remove their benches and replace them with chairs, which accommodated physical distancing. In addition, some needed to install hand sanitisers and temperature gauges and grant funding was provided,” Mrs. Lord-Graham explained.