Bahamas Development Bank: More than $2 mil. COVID-19 business loans approved

Bahamas Development Bank: More than $2 mil. COVID-19 business loans approved
Bahamas Development Bank

NASSAU, BAHAMAS —The Bahamas Development Bank has approved $2,865,319 in loans and $181,077 in grants to meet the needs of micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) facing economic challenges imposed by COVID-19.

“This effort to sure-up employment and facilitate business continuity continues,” the bank said in a statement today.

“While the BDB Act, 1974 is somewhat dated, its original focus on BDB as a catalyst for economic development and assisting Bahamian ownership is still relevant,” read the statement.

“BDB is pivoting after 40 years of primarily extending credit and is pursuing its full mandate under the BDB Act, 1974 in an energized way. The Bank is focused on encouraging innovation and structural transformation in the Orange, Green, and Blue Economies in a manner that is empowering and inclusive for all Bahamians.”

The BDB plans reopen its doors to the public on Monday with a new work culture.

According to its statement, the bank has made dramatic improvements over the last 20 months and saw many of its new protocols tested in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The NAL rate has been slashed from 76 percent to 24 percent as the bank focused on restructuring and “mopping up” legacy challenges around standard operating procedures, human capital and information technology platform,” the statement read.

The bank reportedly embraced a “Balanced Scorecard Approach”, which aligns decision making related to financing, customer, internal process, learning and growth with vision and strategy yields results.

“The end result of this approach is a BDB with improved operational efficiency, corporate governance structure, risk management, accountability and service,” the statement read.

“While The Bahamas Development Bank (BDB) is a 40-year-old State Owned Enterprise (SOE), it is obliged to operate in the most efficient manner as it delivers on its statutory mandate to: promote industrial, agricultural and commercial development in The Bahamas through the financing of or the investing in approved enterprises; encourage the participation in approved enterprises by citizens of The Bahamas; and promote and enhance the economic development of The Bahamas.

“BDB is not just a bank but the Bahamas’ National Development Bank and it is “in step” with the government’s efforts in counter-cyclical finance through the MSME Business Continuity Programme.”

According to the statement, the bank has several Sectoral Development Projects that combine financing, technical assistance, and policy advocacy at various stages of execution.

“These projects go beyond MSME financing to address structural challenges that prevent industry development such as lack of supporting infrastructure, market access or technical capacity,” it continued.

“BDB’s focus on subsectors that have enormous potential for meeting domestic demand is an important step to providing high-quality jobs and business ownership in renewable energy, beekeeping, poultry and small ruminants.

“BDB is also actively working to mainstream environmental sustainability and climate change considerations into all projects as a matter of best practice while repositioning itself and is best placed to access soft and or blended financing, technical support and grants from agencies such as European Investment Bank (EIB), Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Caribbean Development Export Agency (CEDA), Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute, etc. ultimately reducing capital calls on the government via annual subventions. However, addressing BDB’s historic underfunding or negative capital position is a critically important next step to facilitate the aforementioned access.”

The statement read: “As the country moves into the “new normal”, BDB is engaging with stakeholders more than ever with MOUs either in place or planned with the Bahamas Technical and Vocational Technical Institute (BTVI) and The Bahamas Agricultural Industrial Corporation (BAIC) and other synergistic partners. These collaborative arrangements are expected to improve inter-agency communication and collaboration to support economic development and rationalize cost savings through consolidation of synergistic activities.

“For the Bahamian entrepreneur or individual already in business, BDB’s structural changes, focus on economic development, import reduction, export enhancement, economic inclusion coupled with affordable financing creates the right climate for Bahamian optimism and a more resilient economy across the entire archipelago.”