Grants allocated at $20,000
NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said that in this fiscal period the government in conjunction with the private sector has made available $9 million for the development, financing and expansion of small and medium-sized businesses, with grants available of up to $20,000 to entrepreneurs on the Family Islands.
“We’ve introduced a small business loan, grant program and we put this at $5 million per year over the next five years,” said Minnis, during a town meeting in Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera on Saturday.
“That’ll be $25 million. You can borrow from this $5 million.
“We understand that there has to be special circumstances for some Bahamians and therefore we’ve introduced a grant so that you can receive — all Family Islanders who go through the program — and they can receive a grant up to $20,000.
“That is, we would give you up to $20,000 and you don’t pay it back.
“That’s yours. So, when I talk about grant, always remember I am not talking about Larry Grant… [or] Susie Grant, I am talking about money grant.
“That’s given to you. Family Islanders would qualify for the free money to assist with their businesses, but you can borrow up to $250,000 and we have made that available for our people.
“…You would be able to access this so you can either start your own business or you can add onto your business or you can expand your businesses, but we want to make this available to you.
“The banks and private sector see how well the program is organized; they, themselves have infused an additional $4 million, so there is $9 million just for this year.
“And I am sure when they see how well the program [is doing] and how well you are responding to it, more money will come in. So, take advantage of that.”
As part its campaign platform, the Minnis administration committed to assisting in the development of SMEs in The Bahamas.
As part of this pledge, the government has sought adjusted the policy framework to improve the ease of doing business in The Bahamas, and gone as far as reworking business license fees to offer expedited provisional business licenses to “low-risk” businesses for a 90-day period while entrepreneurs completed the full licensing process.
Last July, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest said the government was establishing a board to oversee the disbursement of the $25 million in financing for SMEs over the five-year period, noting that the business community would invite entrepreneurs to submit business plans.
At the time, Turnquest, the minister of finance, said the government planned to introduce legislation that would allow for small and medium-sized businesses to benefit from government procurement.