Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland (left) speaking to the media following a tour of Jordans Supermarket in Fitts Village, St. James last Friday. Mr. Sutherland is joined by Chief Executive Officer of Jordans Supermarket, Audley Jordan (centre) and officials from his Ministry. (D.Crichlow/GP)

Government’s Trust Loan Fund should “soon be up and running”.

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, gave this assurance last Friday, as he spoke to media representatives following a tour of Jordans Supermarket at Fitts Village, St. James.

“Within four weeks’ time, we intend to be in a position to offer the first loan.  And, indeed, it won’t be one loan because we know that the flood gates would be open.  We would put the necessary infrastructure in place to accommodate people from all trade, all sectors of business and all parts of the country.  We intend to decentralize the actual Trust Loan system, whereby we would have an operation in Speightstown; we want to put one in Christ Church in Oistins and of course in Bridgetown, with the headquarters stationed somewhere in Bridgetown,” Minister Sutherland said.

Emphasizing that this was separate from FundAccess, he said whereas the latter lent up to $150,000, Government’s new initiative would provide a start-up loan of $5,000, and once individuals established good credit rating and repaid the loan, then they could obtain another $5,000.

“After that, we will graduate you to FundAccess,” Mr. Sutherland stated, adding that Government was just giving a start and providing the framework through which business could grow in the country.

The Small Business Minister pointed out that persons would not be required to provide guarantors, seek references from the bank or even state where they were employed.  “We assume once you have registered your business, and we will help you do that too, you come to us, we say ‘yes’.

“It is a given that once you have an established business or a registered business, a small business, or you are an entrepreneur you would get the funding that you need…

“Just proof of address, the business that has been registered and you would get money.  We trust you and that is why it is called the Trust Loan Fund.  So, you must trust us as well… It is built around trust and around us saying ‘Yes’ to you and you will get the money to grow the business,” he explained.

Stressing that Government recognized people needed a start, he said the initiative, also came against the backdrop where most persons were finding it difficult to obtain loans from commercial banks.

“So, we have set the policy framework whereby more businesses can come and start – $5,000 Trust Loan and that gives you a start; it also helps you to build your credit rating,” Minister Sutherland said, adding that these entities could include supermarkets, hairdressers’ salons, barber shops as well as mechanic and body workshops.

The Small Business Minister also noted that there would be a training component to the new initiative, “teaching them how to grow their businesses”.  Pointing out that this was expected to come through an entity called a Financial Literacy Bureau, he said it would teach persons how to manage and market their business, as well as provide excellent customer service.

“It is a shift in how we as a Government view small business or how we intend to grow this economy through small businesses. That is the framework and policy initiatives that we have put in place. We are not only providing the loan, but we are setting up something,” Minister Sutherland stressed.

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