Launch of $50 Million Fund to Aid MSME Sector

The Hon Donville Inniss addressing the members and partners of the Small Business Association.

In light of the prolonged recessionary economic environment, the SBA’s role in lobbying and advocating on behalf of small business owners has become increasingly important.

Equally important, is the assistance from our local government in addressing and resolving the issues that confront the sector.

The news therefore of the introduction of a $50 Million Fund to aid small business owners with start-up capital via loans and grants, was very well received at the Association’s recent Member’s Meeting. Featured speaker, the Hon. Donville Inniss announced to members and partners that a policy framework had been prepared and would be implemented to guide the MSME sector’s development in Barbados for the next decade. Accounting for almost 47% of national development, Inniss stated that there was a need to pay greater attention to this key sector.

In acknowledging certain challenges confronting small businesses such as a “lack of the MSME category in national accounts” he stated that government would be unable to assist with all issues facing the sector as some were directly in the control of the small business owners themselves.

With this in mind the policy prescriptions were pitched towards, inter alia, the legislative and business support framework, market access, and access to finance. This promise of enhanced access to finance was the highlight of the SBA’s meeting as Mr. Inniss reminded that in the August 2016 budget a “special fund capitalized to the tune of $50 Million” had been announced. This fund, “was created for the purpose of providing a blend of grants and soft loans to the sector” and would be utilized in several ways to aid MSMEs.

One such way was by a $10 million boost to the Barbados Agency for Micro Enterprise, better known as Fund Access, to assist in the growth of the MSME sector by way of loans and grants. Mr. Inniss also confirmed that he had advised the management of Fund Access to use their best management practices and business support policies in determining the disbursement of monies.

The Fund Access Board was further encouraged to “urgently give positive consideration to increasing its loan limit from $100k per applicant to $150k.” Furthermore, Fund Access was to “shortly agree to provide loans with more flexible interest rates and other terms that ought to be of great assistance to members in the small business sector.

Inniss therefore stated that he expected “a significant increase in loans over the next year.” He also assured the small business community that this new wand of financing would focus on businesses that can create jobs, save or earn foreign exchange and with a focus on innovation and more technology based enterprises. It would also ensure that “women and the youth of our nation are not marginalized in their society when it comes to access to financing.”

In addition to Fund Access, Inniss announced that there were initiatives being taken through the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation. These initiatives would include helping firms to be more export ready. Inniss also pledged to further partner with the SBA to ensure that they continued to be strengthened through being bold enough to insist that many take membership in the association.

Inniss stated that his vision for the sector would be for it to become “a globally competitive, technologically driven sector, contributing to the sustainable socio-economic development of Barbados.”

With the intention to further make this vision a reality, the Small Business Association will forever continue to stand with the small business owners of Barbados as according to Mr. Inniss “we are duly bound to be bold and imaginative as we seek to protect and grow the ideas and investments of so many ordinary Barbadians for generations to come.”

Picture Caption: The Hon Donville Inniss addressing the members and partners of the Small Business Association.