Nearly $15 million of $20 million small business loan programme requested to-date

Nearly $15 million of $20 million small business loan programme requested to-date

616 micro, small and medium sized businesses (MSMEs) have registered

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Nearly $15 million in financial assistance has already been formally requested though the $20 million Small Business Continuity Loan Program, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance K Peter Turnquest.

The program is being offered through the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), and was launched last week.

It is designed to provide  loans to small businesses, ranging from $5,000 to $300,000. Approved loans will have a payment grace period of four months.

As of Friday last week, 616 micro, small and medium sized businesses (MSMEs) registered for assistance with the SBDC, according to Turnquest.

Among that group, 382 businesses have completed the full application process.

“These businesses represent 1,082 full-time employees and 243 part-time employees In total, they have formally requested approximately $14.88 million in financial assistance,” said Turnquest.

He added: “The $20 million allocated by the Government for MSMEs will ensure that all businesses who qualify have the support they need to protect their livelihoods and the families represented by their workforce. The SBDC has also been one of the lead advocates for the deferral of existing loan payments by commercial banks for entrepreneurs who may already have loans with lending institutions. I am pleased to advise that the Bahamas Development Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), CIBC First Caribbean and Scotiabank have publicly pledged to defer loan payments for their business clients–although the terms differ by bank.”

Turnquest noted that partnering financial institutions will facilitate the actual loan processing– to include the vetting of the required information, the approvals, the issuing of funds, and the collection of payments after the four-month moratorium. These loans he said are earmarked for operating costs such as paying salaries, rent, insurance, utilities and inventory/supplies.

“Existing small businesses – companies operating with a valid business license for one year or more – can apply to the program. To be part of the initiative, companies must agree to retain 51 per cent of their staff and agree to have credit information shared with the Credit Bureau and other banking and financial institutions in the future,” said Turnquest.

He added: “So far, the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, Cash N Go Ltd, Leno Corporate Services Ltd, Omni Financial Group Ltd, Simplified Lending Ltd, and Fidelity Bank Bahamas have agreed to participate in the program. Hundreds of applications have already started coming in through the SBDC.”