Government is seeking to encourage growth of the small business sector by offering alternative financing opportunities to entrepreneurs, including those in the apparel industry.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland gave this assurance last night as he addressed the Glow For The Love of Fusion, Fashion and Form 2018 fashion show at Blue Horizon Hotel.
Sutherland, whose Barbados Labour Party administration came to power here just over a month ago following the May 24 general elections, also revealed that his ministry was seeking to have a special loan fund up and running by the end of July to assist local entrepreneurs.
“As a Government . . . we will take a chance on ordinary Barbadians, especially those left behind by the policies of traditional financial institutions, by providing $10 million per year for each of the next five years to seed a Trust Loan Fund to give to small business security-free loans of up to $5,000 each,” Sutherland said.
He also urged local fashion designers and those in the apparel industry to take advantage of the fund, while reporting that though the sector was responsible for 239 jobs in 2015, it had only benefited from $10, 000 in investment through the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation in 2014.
Sutherland called on stakeholder to rebuild and revitalize the once booming industry while acknowledging that “the local apparel sector which encompasses fashion design, confronts major problems such as high production costs, access to finance and highly competitive imports.
“It is therefore my role to work with stakeholders, such as yourself, to identify how to make it easier to build out this sector,” he told those in attendance while emphasizing the global potential of the sector.
“We firmly believe in building an economy from the bottom up. Creating new areas of growth, innovations, and the fashion sector offers an opportunity to pilot a number of initiatives . . . .
“The potential exists, with investment and facilitation by Government to take the fashion and apparel industry to another level,” he stressed.