Minister of Energy and Business Development Senator Lisa Cummins has proposed a revamp of how government funding is provided for entrepreneurs, as she admitted that the current approach is not working.
She has promised to undertake the ambitious task of “creating a financing ecosystem” that provides financing options tailored to each sector based on its unique vulnerabilities and challenges.
“One of the new things I would like to be able to work through is a refashioning of the way in which we approach financing for entrepreneurs,” said the former Tourism Minister who was given the current ministerial portfolio just over two weeks ago.
“There is quite a body of work that has been done in the different types of support that different sectors need. What is needed for manufacturing is not what is necessarily needed for agriculture; what is needed for agriculture is not what is necessarily needed for the creative economy.
“I want to be able to mine, even further, what are the opportunities for the orange economy and entrepreneurial development, what are the financing mechanisms that are going to be specifically needed for the orange economy, the blue economy, the green economy, for traditional sectors, for emerging sectors, for innovative sectors. There is no one-size-fits-all approach,” added Cummins, as she gave a sneak peek into the plan for the entrepreneurship sector.
The Minister was addressing the official launching ceremony for Global Entrepreneurship Week 2022 at the Cave Hill School of Business and Management on Monday.
The event, which is organised by the Barbados Youth Business Trust (BYBT), is being held under the theme Creating a New Generation of Entrepreneurs: Resilience, Rebirth and Social Impact.
Noting that it was still early days, with past studies being examined to come up with a new approach for providing financing specifically for entrepreneurs across different sectors, Cummins said she was committed to working closely with business support organisations to ensure this was achieved.
She said work has already started with a review of the profiles of those accessing support under FundAccess and the newer Barbados Trust Fund Ltd., which was established at the end of October 2018.
While these and other lending institutions offer loans to a range of sectors, the terms of those loans are usually the same for all.
Acknowledging that the support of these agencies has been critical, Cummins said creating financial ecosystems that take into account the differences in each sector’s needs is crucial.
“When I talk about creating ecosystems around them I think that perhaps one of the ways in which I may have to work through with someone who is in the agricultural sector and providing support to do [certain things], you are going to have different vulnerabilities and different challenges to someone, let’s say, in the creative industry,” she explained.
“I want to make sure that we are using the support mechanisms that we already have and [tailoring] them into bespoke solutions for sectoral needs, so that Barbados can make the determination as to how best we can provide that level of support to different types of entrepreneurs.”
Cummins said it was also her wish to see research students at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus partner with the BYBT, other tertiary learning institutions, the Ministry of Business Development and other business support organisations to develop innovative products and services based on research coming out of the tertiary learning institutions on the island.
“My ministry is committed to being able to work with all of you to develop custom-built, bespoke solutions for different sectors in the economy, different life cycles of the entrepreneurship journey and those who are in the second wave of that journey, and then finally, how do we work in collaboration with our research and development institutions to ensure that we are able to have innovative entrepreneurship,” said Cummins.
She said she was also keen on exploring non-traditional financing options for local entrepreneurs, including equity financing.