Govt. announces $9 million fund for Bahamian entrepreneurs

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said by bringing in additional funding from Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre’s (SMDC) partners, the government’s $5.5 million allocation for micro, small, and medium-sized businesses has been leveraged to secure up to $9 million in capital financing for small businesses across The Bahamas.

“This is the largest single allocation of investment funds for Bahamian entrepreneurs that has ever been made by the Government of The Bahamas,” Turnquest said during a press conference at the House of Assembly on Wednesday.

The partners include Scotiabank, The Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, RBC Banking and The Bahamas Development Bank.

In attendance at the press conference were: Marlon Johnson, Financial Secretary; Geoffrey Andrews, Chairman, SBDC; Davinia Blair, Executive Director, SBDC; Na-amah Rahming-Barker, Director, Retail Banking, Scotiabank; and Kevin Darling, Caribbean Head, RBC Banking.

The DPM explained that by signing onto the access to capital agreement, the partners have demonstrated that Bahamians are worth taking a chance on and investing in.

“This programme is specifically designed to give access to capital to young Bahamians and Bahamians from disadvantaged backgrounds who have ideas but have never had the opportunity because they do not have the means.”

He said there are three parts to the Access for Capital.

First, Government guaranteed loans where entrepreneurs will now need far less – if any – personal collateral to qualify for a small business loan by virtue of the Government’s 75 per cent guarantee.

Second, there will be grants for impoverished young Bahamians, which means immediate seed money to pump businesses and to support a loan or equity injection.

These grants are specifically targeted at Family Island entrepreneurs and young people under 40 with little financial means.  Individual grants will be capped at $20,000.  This money will not have to be paid back and grants are paid directly to vendors for the goods and services provided to the entrepreneur.

Third, there will be equity financing, which means access to money from investors in exchange for a share of the company.  For a small business, the investor would become a minority partner, until the business matures and the investor can be bought out.  The target range from this form of financing is approximately $20,000 to $50,000 but can go up to $100,000.

DPM Turnquest said, “But let us be clear: we are just not handing out money.  We are ensuring that businesses have the necessary tools and support they need to be successful.  After all, this is not our money.”

He explained that the money is accessed through the SMDC’s structured business and advisory programme, which was set up as an independent governance structure so that persons do not have to go politicians to get approvals.

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This article was written by Llonella Gilbert – Bahamas Information Services