The Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) will be teaming up with the Ministry of Youth, Sports and Community Empowerment to provide funding for the Block Entrepreneurship Programme to attract younger applicants.
General Manager of the BTFL, Gerry Amos, made the announcement today on the final day of training and loan disbursement to 125 new clients at the Parkinson Resource Centre, The Pine, St. Michael.
He said financing for 16 young entrepreneurs in the programme should be completed next week, and lamented that not enough young people were coming forward for loans.
“The concern is that we are still finding middle-aged to older persons coming in, but what is interesting is that we are now going to partner with the Ministry of Youth’s Block Entrepreneurship Programme. We have about 16 young people from that programme, and come next week, we are going to finish the financing for those,” he underlined.
Mr. Amos also announced that there would be an enhanced presence in communities next year, with a series of pop up shop activities to not only enhance the revenue of the enterprises, but to introduce the public to the range of products being offered by the small business sector.
“Every month in next year, we are going to have a pop up shop in some parish in the island… We are going to bring our clients in; … we are going to have sponsored tents up…. If a client has a tent they can bring it along. We will do all of the marketing and advertising for that. During the month, we will select the clients and have infomercials running on social media platforms, so that the public will know.”
He also gave an update on the backlog of loans, and disclosed that the Trust was working assiduously to clear the backlog, while processing new applications.
“I think we have now after this (Thursday’s) session, we should have about 1,200 to 1, 500 applications in backlog. But, we are hoping that by April/May, next year that we can decrease that significantly.”
Mr. Amos shared that during the slow down caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fund heavily supported clients who had been experiencing difficulties by topping up their loans, while ensuring that the needs of new clients were met.
He said the applicants were interested in starting businesses in agriculture, manufacturing, and retail.
“What we are finding though is that we are having a lot of applications from persons who were laid off from the hotel industry, and…we have mixologists, people in food, people in cakes and pastry…who are coming in looking for loans”.
The BTFL General Manager said he was extremely pleased with the Fund’s performance two years later, and added that in instances where clients fell short on payments, a moratorium was given.
Mr. Amos said the Trust Fund would continue to support its clients by providing training and other support to ensure business continuity.