PM: “We will be doing even more to create opportunities for Bahamians entrepreneurs”
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) has shifted its budget to allocate an additional $500,000 to its stand-alone grant programme, Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis revealed during a national address Sunday.
He noted that over 400 applications have been received so far.
“While we continue our fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the government is making good on our $55 million commitment this fiscal year of 2020 to 2021, to support Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses.
“Through the Access Accelerator-Small Business Development Centre, or SBDC, a new small business grant programme has been launched to provide grants of up to $5,000 to Bahamian entrepreneurs to start a business or to expand their small business.
“These are grants or funds that these entrepreneurs get to fund a specific business need that they have. These funds do not have to be repaid.”
He continued: “To date, the SBDC has received over 400 applications toward the $500,000 that has been budgeted for the programme. The response has been so positive, that the SBDC has shifted its budget to add an additional $500,000 to the programme to bring the total programme allocation to $1 million.
“Through this programme, individual entrepreneurs and micro-businesses will get equipment, supplies and materials to allow them to start a business or to give their enterprise a boost.”
Minnis noted that the SBDC will soon launch its youth programme that will provide grants, loans, training and business support for young Bahamians aged 18 to 30.
“The government and the SBDC recognizes that our young people have incredible determination and drive,” he said.
“Many of them have a strong desire to work for themselves. My government wants to nurture their sense of entrepreneurship and ownership. The experience of the SBDC is that young applicants also require substantial training and business support to turn their dreams and ideas into viable and sustainable businesses.
“Accordingly, the SBDC has budgeted the sum of $1.5 million in its new youth programme that will provide grants, loans, training and business support for young entrepreneurs getting into their first business or expanding their existing businesses.”
He noted that his administration has so far provided some $52.7 million in loans and grants through the SBDC to over 950 Bahamian micro and small businesses which includes over $40 million in direct support for those that have been impacted by Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Never before in the history of our country have Bahamian entrepreneurs obtained this kind of direct small business support. We will be doing even more to create opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs,” said Minnis.
He further noted that his administration is committed to allocating $50 million per year in support of small businesses over the next five years — for a total of $250 million in support for Bahamian entrepreneurship.
“We will continue to set aside sums for specific segments of our population to ensure that marginalized and under-represented groups in our Bahamas get specific attention,” he said.
“Accordingly, of the $250 million five-year commitment, my government will set aside a minimum of $25 million specifically for entrepreneurship programs geared toward Bahamian youth and toward women.
“While there will be funds directly targeted for certain segments, including young people, all Bahamians are eligible to seek grants.”