The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the bottom line of many small businesses, but Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, is reporting that the majority of businesses are still paying their loans.
He shared this information with media at the end of a visit to Trust Fund Limited, Fund Access and the Small Business Association clients in Christ Church and St. Michael, recently.
Mr. Symmonds stated that an examination of loan performance of 1,652 businesses showed that approximately 1,100 have been actively repaying their loans from the Trust Fund with over 500 remaining businesses falling into a state of delinquency.
“We have written out to them asking them either to come in, or indicating to them that our officers would come out to talk to them and the process of holding their hands now is taking place. So that we identify what each particular business challenge is, once we identify that, we give them assistance,” he underlined.
The Minister said the department had been holding seminars on customer service, debt management and financial planning for 30 Trust Loan clients, to teach them the fundamentals to ensure that their businesses do not fail.
Mr. Symmonds said more seminars will be held in other districts across the island to ensure there is business continuity in the micro business sector.
“Many people with good intentions go out there and find themselves in trouble because they simply don’t know what the options are and how to get around some of the hurdles and it is our duty to partner with them, and that is what we are doing with them in this very difficult period,” he stated.
The Minister said going forward, applicants would benefit from financial education training in areas such as crafting business plans and marketing strategies before the funds are disbursed.
Coming out of the pandemic, Mr. Symmonds said they had identified possible business areas that could jump start the economy. Those arears are: renewable energy, culture and agriculture sectors, and the service industries.
“COVID-19 has forced us to rethink all of the strategies…. The key thing is to get Barbadian people back to work and to get them to buy in to doing things differently,” he added.