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Sutherland: FundAccess Shifting Focus In 2020

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland (right) with Chairman of FundAccess,David Simpson and General Manager of FundAccess, Esther Lord-Graham, at the agency’s Mix & Mingle event at Josephine’s Cafe/Bistro, The City.​ (GP)

FundAccess is continuing to examine new ways of providing capital for small businesses.

This was revealed by Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, as he spoke at the agency’s first Mix and Mingle for 2020, last Saturday at the Josephine Café/Bistro, The City.

Mr. Sutherland acknowledged that the agency’s focus had shifted, and this was evident since the end of December 2019, with funding of $2.5 million being provided to 34 Transport Board retrenched workers. 

Noting that $1.6 million had been disbursed thus far to those workers, he stressed it spoke “to empowering and enfranchising a sector that has been in the wilderness for some time”.

While adding that the livelihood of this Transport Augmentation Programme depended on FundAccess, he assured others in waiting that their funding would come, as the agency was hoping to work with the European Investment Bank to assist them in the thrust to provide “an efficient transport service”.

However, the Small Business Minister stressed there were other untapped opportunities that could bring investment to the island.

“We have looked at ways in which we can provide capital for the small businesses, not just the transport workers because FundAccess provides funding for several companies in tourism, baking and so on.  And, we are looking at ways in which we can provide support to those persons who I would say are ‘unbankable’ because the banks don’t recognize them as having sufficient information,” Mr. Sutherland stated, as he assured clients other financing schemes were on the cards.

Longstanding client, Kennifer Marius (left) with General Manager of FundAccess, Esther Lord-Graham, at the loan agency’s first Mix & Mingle session for the year. (GP)

The Minister also noted that the time had come for some of the agency’s clients, who had accessed between $10,000 and $150,000 to become world class and take their business to the global stage. 

He said while FundAccess would provide funding, technical support and handholding, it was now necessary for the agency to examine its network and database to see those companies “that we believe are ready to take on the world, and who can have their initial product offering on the Junior Stock Exchange, the Innovative and Growth market”.   

Mr. Sutherland said the facility should take the lead in creating a collateral registry, which would contain a register of movable assets of companies.

Meanwhile, Chairman of FundAccess, David Simpson, added that emphasis would be placed on the quality of loans the agency would disburse, as well as the quality of businesses.

He said: “We have noted that while funds and finances are critical to the success of your businesses, that we also have to make sure that we are mentoring you focusing on the skills sets that you need to develop and to run your business.”

Since its inception in 1998, FundAccess has disbursed over 1,600 loans, totalling just over $66 million.

joy-ann.gill@barbados.gov.bb

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