The Government unit that was set up to lend seed money to micro and small businesses last year has held its first meeting as a newly corporatised state enterprise, the Barbados Trust Fund Limited.
The new board of the BTFL, formerly known as the Trust Loan Unit, has met with Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland to discuss the lender’s new strategic direction.
According to a Government statement, central to the discussions on Monday was the board’s mandate to digitise the state-owned firm, transfer clients in the informal trading to the formal sector, develop a public relations campaign and develop a policy on loan delinquencies.
Board members have also been tasked with making improvements in the fund’s governance and operations, and build-out its community-based training programme in entrepreneurial development and financial literacy – a Financial Literacy Bureau and Community Cluster – intended to improve the entrepreneurs’ money management skills.
The board is chaired by Ambassador Dr. Clyde Mascoll, while the other members are Dr Jonathan Lashley, Dwayne Grazette, Lynda Goodridge, Trudy Symmonds, and Charles Parris.
Established by Cabinet decree as the Trust Loan Unit on August 2, 2018, and launched on October 29, the BTFL has exceeded its initial loan disbursement targets, Government said.
Sutherland, in providing an update on the fund, said: “The company has disbursed approximately $9,887,325.30 to 2,186 persons.
“These loans were disbursed to persons from the agricultural, cultural industries, manufacturing, retail, services and tourism sectors.
“The loan recipients from the agricultural sector constituted persons in the areas of farming, fisheries and animal husbandry.
“The recipients from the manufacturing sector were in the areas of garments, arts and craft, bakery and natural juices, among others.
“Clients from the retail and distribution sectors were from the areas of pharmaceuticals, frozen products, household products and bars.
“The services sector included entertainment, maintenance, education, landscaping, barbering and catering.”
The objective of the initiative is to provide $10 million per year for each of the next five years to seed a Trust Loan Fund, in order to give all small businesses/entrepreneurs and business owners, security-free loans of up to $5,000.00 each.
The minister for entrepreneurship said: “When this loan is fully paid and the borrower has built a good credit profile, the business/owner would be eligible for another loan of up to an additional $10,000.00.
These loans are available to all legitimate small business owners in every category of business.”
Acknowledging that clients have begun to repay their loans to the BTFL, he said some borrowers had already fully repaid their loans and were currently seeking additional loans.
Located at Building #4, Harbour Industrial Estate, Harbour Road, St. Michael, the fund’s is managed by Gerald Amos.