Officials of the Barbados Trust Fund Limited (BTFL) have been strategising, and have laid the foundation to ensure that the small business community remains afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, stated this Monday, as he gave an insight into the agency’s activities to assist the sector, while delivering remarks at the official opening of a Debt and Money Management workshop for vendors at the Berinda Cox Fishing Complex and the Oistins Bay Gardens, at the Christ Church Parish Church.
The Minister told his audience that the agency addressed the needs of “ailing businesses” through conducting an online survey of over 1,200 of them, and offering loan restructuring, which was applicable to all clients, and involved a three-month moratorium on loan payments for April-May in the first instance.
He said depending on the state of affairs after that period, a further waiver of payments would be instituted, if the environment warranted it.
The BTFL also offered a further extension of credit terms on existing loans with a longer repayment period and an ease for clients with reduced monthly payments. Clients may also benefit from refinancing of the existing loan to consolidate their debts, or have working capital.
Minister Sutherland said the BTFL would facilitate working short-term capital support to purchase stock, material, equipment, and technology; undertake marketing; improve health and safety; and install security systems, among other things.
The Minister said as of June 26, 18 businesses had received top-up loans valued at $38,152.54. Additionally, 150 businesses, or 10 per cent, of those negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic had been identified by the Ministry for assistance to the tune of $337,500 of the limited funds available.
The Small Business Minister added: “I am confident that with Government’s continued policy development thrust to facilitate the growth and development of micro, small and medium size enterprises, the sector can be used as a catalyst in the recovery of the Barbados economy, and as the engine to propel the country on a sustainable economic growth path during the rest of COVID-19 and post-COVID-19.”