Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, presents Anastacia McDowall with a gift basket as part of the Barbados Trust Fund Limited’s customer appreciation bus tour while her husband Jacob McDowall looks on. (J. Carrington/BGIS)

Twelve clients of the Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) received a pleasant surprise yesterday, when they saw Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, and other officials, alight from an air conditioned coach bearing beautifully wrapped gift baskets.

The first recipient was meat vendor Anastacia McDowall at Holder’s Terrace St. James who accepted the basket and certificate and received high commendation from Minister Symmonds for being an excellent client. 

Mrs. McDowall, who operates a meat stall at Cheapside, deeply appreciated the gesture. She said since COVID-19, she had been implementing different strategies to keep her business afloat.

“I have been trying different things and different ways to manage because in situations like these you cannot give up…you have to keep on fighting and that is what I have been doing,” she said.

The touring party’s second stop was to visit Angela Branch, a beach vendor plying her trade at Enterprise Beach, Christ Church.

On accepting her basket and certificate, Ms. Branch said the Trust Fund was a God send and she had been able to “turn over the monies over and over.”

“I have been through a lot and I can almost write a book about what not to do in a small business.  I remember going to a bank that was advertising small business loans. When I went there they said ‘yes we mean small but not that small’. So I heard people say that is no money…but it went a long way for me so I just want to say thanks for having faith in me,” she added.

At Salters, St. George, the Minister and his team saw the operations of Ezra Marshall’s Meadows in the Sun Wine Manufacturing and engaged the media.

He said the bus ride was the Trust’s way of giving back to its clients who have been performing exceptionally. 

Emphasising that the Trust Fund has over 3,100 clients, the Minister added that the majority of the clients were sincere and did not treat the Fund as a “slush fund but as an opportunity to develop and to advance themselves as entrepreneurs and small business people and they are very diligent in the way in which they go about their business”.

The Minister thanked General Manager, Gerry Amos, and his Business Development Officers for helping entrepreneurs to develop their business and putting to rest those critics who speak the language of throwing “more money” while ignoring the work done to develop people.

“Today, we presented Ezra with a certificate recognising his completion of a course in management. When you [Ezra] started out you had not been up to that stage or exposed to those skills…We have a lot of people who because of the difficulty of the times, have been laid off, have lost their traditional form of employment but they still have to find a way of earning an honest living.”

Mr. Symmonds continued: “You go into entrepreneurship, but you need somebody to hold your hand…you need to understand some of the technicalities of accounting. You need at age 50 something to understand some of the technicalities of how you market on Facebook and on Instagram etc., because you never did that before and these are things you have to appreciate. It isn’t a one size cap that fits every head, it is often about getting access to money, that is a given, but it is equally more often about helping people to understand how to avoid the pitfalls that allowed businesses to fail.”

In turn, Mr. Marshall was bowled over by the token of appreciation. “I want to thank you all I honestly did not expect this.”

The touring party journeyed to leather craftsman John Yard’s operation at Lower Carter’s Gap, Christ Church. He thanked the Trust Fund for the kind gesture and expressed an interest in teaching the craft in schools.

Twelve clients were visited by the Trust Fund and others officials from the Ministry during the tour that crisscrossed the parishes or St. James, St. Michael, St. George, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Andrew, St. Lucy, St. Peter, St. Peter and St. Thomas.

Today, officials from the Trust handed gift baskets to the remaining 10 clients on the list to be honoured.

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