Some 700 people have so far received low-interest startup loans from the Government’s Trust Loan Fund, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland has reported.
He made the disclosure while contributing to the Budget Debate in the House of Assembly yesterday.
Declaring that the ministry’s support from small business startups does not end with the loan disbursement, Sutherland announced a raft of additional support systems to ensure business viability through entrepreneurship education with support from the Small Business Association (SBA).
Sutherland told the lower legislature: “We are not only giving you money; we are providing support so that your business can flourish. We formed the Financial Literacy Bureau. Thus far, we have been told 270 businesses have been trained.
“I want to thank the SBA and the head for providing that support without any monetary reward because she too supports this Government’s mission. It is not only about money. It is about saving people and saving lives.”
He recalled a recent encounter with a benefactor of the loan and subsequent training.
“We trained people in marketing their businesses and financial literacy. We went further and visited most of these businesses. We were pleased to see the reports.
“At the recently-held Agrofest someone in the services sector, selling donuts, invited me to see them display and sell their products. I got to Agrofest on the Sunday at 2 p.m. and indeed that person was sold out. So you tell me if the Trust Loan Fund has not been not been assisting with the small businesses and entrepreneurs in this country?”
He continued: “We will continue holding business fairs across the 11 parishes. The first was at Green’s in St George and indeed it was a success. I have engaged my colleagues to ensure we bring business fairs to every single parish in this country.”
The MP for St George South explained that Government is also looking to promote greater connectivity and corporation between businesses to leverage skills.
He told lawmakers of the formation of a business cluster programme, inviting his colleagues to the Barbados Museum on April 27 to witness the first key cluster being rolled out in the fashion industry.
“We have fashion designers, modelling agencies, seamstresses, making of jewellery and accessories, personnel from the cultural industry, web designers and web promoters and of course, we are not leaving out the Barbados National Standards Institute who will be there to make sure our standards are up to par. We intend to take these businesses beyond the 166 square miles.”