FundAccess is examining new ways of providing capital for small businesses.
This was revealed by Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce Dwight Sutherland as he spoke at the agency’s first Mix and Mingle for 2020, at the Josephine Café/Bistro, The City recently.
He acknowledged that the agency’s focus had shifted, and this was evident since the end of December 2019, with $2.5 million in funding being provided to 34 Transport Board retrenched workers under the Transport Augmentation Programme.
Noting that $1.6 million had been disbursed thus far to those workers, Sutherland stressed it spoke to “empowering and enfranchising a sector that has been in the wilderness for some time”.
While adding that the livelihood of the programme depended on FundAccess, he assured others in waiting that their funding would come, as the agency was hoping to work with the European Investment Bank to assist in the thrust to provide “an efficient transport service”.
However, the Minister stressed there were other untapped opportunities that could bring investment to the island.
“We have looked at ways in which we can provide capital for the small businesses, not just the transport workers, because FundAccess provides funding for several companies in tourism, baking and so on. And we are looking at ways in which we can provide support to those persons who I would say are ‘unbankable’ because the banks don’t recognize them as having sufficient information,” he said, as he assured clients that other financing schemes were on the cards.
The Minister also noted that the time had come for some of the agency’s clients, who had accessed between $10,000 and $150,000, to become world class and take their businesses to the global stage.
He said while FundAccess would provide funding, technical support and handholding, it was now necessary for the agency to examine its network and database to see those companies “that we believe are ready to take on the world, and who can have their initial product offering on the Junior Stock Exchange, the Innovative and Growth market”.
Sutherland said the facility should take the lead in creating a collateral registry, which would contain a register of movable assets of companies.
Meanwhile, FundAccess Chairman David Simpson added that emphasis would be placed on the quality of loans the agency would disburse, as well as the quality of businesses.
“We have noted that while funds and finances are critical to the success of your businesses, that we also have to make sure that we are mentoring you, focusing on the skill sets that you need to develop and to run your business,” he said.
Since its inception in 1998, FundAccess has disbursed over 1,600 loans, totalling just over $66 million.