There appears to be light at the end of the tunnel for hundreds of small business owners and startups who for months have been attempting to secure financing from the Barbados Trust Fund Limited.
Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds on Monday revealed that within a month, the fund is expected to be recapitalized, following promises of relief for micro and small businesses coming out of last month’s throne speech.
With approximately 30 percent of the 1700 trust loan recipients struggling to repay their loans, the minister added that new applicants would be subjected to a higher level of scrutiny and business training before their loans are approved.
“Since the resumption of Parliament and the throne speech, the commitment was given that we would have the recapitalization and refunding of the Trust Fund. The funding mechanisms are still being put in place. I have done an analysis of some of the fund performances and I must tell you that it isn’t a sad story by any stretch of the imagination,” revealed the minister.
“Once we get to the stage where we have the funding though, the process will reopen, but it will be a lot tighter going forward. I think it is important upfront that we make sure people benefit from financial education we are talking about. I think everybody wants to get access to money and start-up their business, but you also have to deal with the business plan and the marketing strategies,” added Symmonds.
The Minister’s comments followed a tour of the micro, small and medium-sized manufacturing enterprises including Barbados Rum Cakes, Golden Touch Spa, RT’s Brewing, and Crumbz Bakery to find out firsthand the impact that Covid-19 has had on business.
Since becoming minister a few months ago, Symmonds observed that a large number of Barbadian businesses with promising concepts have been launched. However, without workable business plans, marketing strategies, and fundamental technical skills, their businesses have suffered tremendously.
“We are in touch with 1,652 business. Of them, 1,100 or so are actively repaying from the trust fund. It means there are about 500 that have suffered or fallen into a state of delinquency or non-performance of the loans,” revealed Symmonds.
“We have written to them, asking them to either come in or indicated that our officers will come out to talk with them and the process of holding their hands now is taking place so that we can identify what their individual challenges are… and then we will give them assistance,” he added.
In fact, he revealed that a seminar will occur later this week at the Valley Resource Centre in St. George focussing on debt management, customer service, and financial planning for 30 Trust Loan Fund clients who are currently struggling to repay their loans. He noted that another similar workshop recently was held in the areas of the Pine and Wildey.
“Everybody who goes out on a venture of their own doesn’t necessarily understand all of the snares and arrows and outrageous fortunes that can fall your way in the business enterprise. Many people with good intentions go out there and find themselves in trouble because they simply don’t know what their options are,” the Minister explained.
“Instead of giving somebody a loan and just hoping they can pay it back, you are now sitting with them and finding out what those difficulties have been, and work through those difficulties,” he added. (KS)