Government will be giving “front-burner status” to small businesses as it encourages the build out of entrepreneurship across the island.
Word of this from Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland who welcomed the opening of the Dollar Smart Discount store in St Patricks, Christ Church on Friday.
Sutherland said it was Government’s intention to provide small businesses with critical hand-holding in addition to finance, in order to make them more sustainable.
“At the heart of national development is the transformation of our communities into productive change units. Our entrepreneurs must therefore be given front-burner status where they are allowed space to inspire and economic revolution through deliberate national inclusion,” said Sutherland.
“I want to reaffirm Government’s commitment to assisting our entrepreneurs with access to reasonable finance through our recently rolled out Trust Loan Fund . . . complementary to this trust loan initiative will soon be my ministry’s roll out of the much needed Financial Literacy Bureau,” he announced.
Among other things, this bureau will allow small business owners to lean how to better manage the business process.
Coupled with a national training and mentorship initiative, entrepreneurs will also have the opportunity to improve their soft skills in an effort to better promote business growth.
Dr Clyde Mascoll has been appointed head of the trust loan steering committee while Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association Lynette holder is the deputy chair.
“We don’t just want people to take the money and then they go belly up. In all fairness, if you give them the money, whether it is $2000 or $3000 and you don’t give them the necessary handholding or support, then we can have a number of businesses failing,” said Sutherland.
The Financial Literacy Bureau is expected to be in operation by the end of January 2019.
Providing an update on the Trust Loan Fund, Sutherland said since its launch about a month ago, some 2,000 applications have been received and so far close to 1,000 have been approved.
“So the first $2 million that has been disbursed to the fund has been basically exhausted. And that has happened within four weeks of the office being opened,” he said.
“So I say to all naysayers and the pundits, the future for business in this country looks bright. The Trust Loan Fund is playing its role,” he added
Sutherland also pointed out that at least two of the retrenched workers were absorbed into the Trust Loan Fund Unit.
He said Government was working on making the application process electronic and would be setting up two more locations – Oistins and Speightstown – in order to better cater to the demands.
Owner of the variety shop Apostle Magdalena Griffith said she saw the store as a “spring board to help others”.
The reasonably priced items range from toiletries, household accessories and toys.
She said she realized there was “a need for items that will be highly used but that look well”.