Government is moving to pump more money into Fund Access to finance new and ongoing small and medium-sized businesses, Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland has announced.
While speaking at the fund’s “Mix and Mingle” social networking event on Saturday, Sutherland said: “We recognize all over the world that if you speak to one challenge within the small and medium enterprise sector it is accessing financing.
“Our Government, we have started talks with non-governmental entities, international agencies, whether the loans will be secured or non-secured we recognised that Fund Access has a number of clients who are knocking on the door.”
In 21 years of operations, Fund Access has approved over $64 million to 1,500 clients.
Chairman of the fund David Simpson said: “We have also approved an additional 138 loans, and refinanced a further 266, all accounting for job creation of just below 2,400 jobs.”
He also pointed out that they had surpassed $6 million in disbursements for the calendar year 2018, having approved and disbursed in excess of $5.9 million in loans and created 144 jobs.
Up to June 30, the Fund has disbursed $2.4 million to 51 clients and created 68 jobs in 2019
Some of the fund’s newest clients, Simpson added, included a dairy farm, a digital advertising firm, an online education company, a veterinary medicine facility and a water treatment plant.
But Minister Sutherland said there was a “dearth” of infrastructural development and financial investment in the transport industry, and he suggested that the money going into Fund Access could be used to revitalise transport.
Sutherland added: “We as a Government will sit with Fund Access and with those non-governmental agencies and international agencies to see how best we can facilitate these funds going into Fund Access so the transportation sector will indeed become a vibrant sector again in this country.”
The Minister also disclosed Fund Access applications will be accessible online. With the new system, applicants will be provided with the application form online and applicants can request appointments online. The online application form will allow prospective Fund Access clients the ability to upload the required documents, choose their appointment date and track the progress of their applications.
The event also saw the launch of a relationship with digital payment system mMoney which the chairman said was expected to facilitate easier transfer of funds on approval to clients, providing an additional payment mechanism.
Simpson said: “mMoney is not just a payment platform… but you can also be a merchant allowing it to receive files into your business easily and it can all be done, of course from your smart device.”
The Minister for Small Business also revealed that the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) is also to be relaunched as SBDC Barbados – a network to create economic opportunities for micro and small businesses and assist businesses until they eventually become profitable.