The Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) has disbursed $22 million in loans over the last five years as it continues on a mission to introduce more locally produced goods to both domestic and global markets.
That’s according to Operations Manager at BTFL Michael Bowen, as his organisation, in partnership with BGI Beauty Supply Inc, hosted a product launch for some of the trust fund’s clients at No. 1 Beauty Supply Store in St Michael’s Row on Friday.
According to Bowen, the BTFL has been working tirelessly, despite the difficulties encountered during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Over the last five years, we have distributed around 4 800 loans, and that [amounted] to $22 million. When the initiative was first launched – the Barbados Trust Fund – we had very high response, high demand, but then you had the intervention of that scourge, COVID-19, and that changed the entire landscape.
“You had businesses really suffering with the restrictions and protocols and movement and so on. But what we did, we analysed the situation, we spoke to as many of our clients as we could and found out where they were at, what were the challenges they were experiencing. It will take some time for some businesses to fully recover from COVID-19, [and] bearing that in mind, we know that additional support is required to offset the losses that would have come about from COVID-19 scenario,” he said.
Friday’s launch was part of the BTFL’s Scale Up Programme and ‘Manufest’ initiative, which will see several of BTFL’s clients having their products on the shelves of the store.
Business Development Manager Kirk Dottin said the project is the first of many to come.
“This is the first that we are actually building out in the local market and we have partnered with BGI to push out this project. We have persons from the beauty cluster here this morning – we don’t have all of them. It’s a work in progress, so within the next coming weeks [we] will have more persons from the beauty cluster on the shelves at BGI,” he said.
Business Development Officer Jerricia Durant said the BTFL was pleased to have BGI on board for a project that will give an invaluable platform for local brands.
“When the opportunity with BGI came up, we thought it was a great opportunity for the entrepreneurs to be supported in the local market and the project just took off from there. Right now we have six brands, [and] we are going to have about four more within the next coming weeks, and then we go through a phase where we vet the other entrepreneurs from the Manufest beauty cluster to see if they are ready, make sure their products are branded and everything. Then we go through the process [with] BGI, vetting the products to see if they meet the standard of being displayed on the shelves here,” she explained.