Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. K. Peter Turnquest announced on Thursday, October 10, 2019, that $10 million will be taken from the Dormant Fund to help re-start the economies in Abaco and Grand Bahama. The Deputy Prime Minister was speaking at a press conference at the Ministry to announce that the Access Accelerator, Small Business Development Centre (SBDC), through the Ministry of Finance and private financial partners, is offering government guaranteed loans to micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) enterprises directly affected by Hurricane Dorian.
He said, “Both Grand Bahama and Abaco represent some 18 per cent of our overall Gross Domestic Product and so it is in our interest and certainly significant for us to get them back and up and operating to as near normal as quickly as possible.” The $10 million will facilitate grants, loan guarantees and equity capital for entrepreneurs residing and displaced from Abaco and Grand Bahama.
Attending the press conference were the partners involved in this initiative including Financial Secretary, Marlon Johnson; Chairperson of the SBDC Board of Directors, Geoffrey Andrews; Executive Director, SBDC, Davinia Grant; President,Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce, Gregory Laroda; Abaco Chamber of Commerce Representative, Krista Albury; Chairman, the Bahamas Chamber Of Commerce and Employers Confederation, Khrystle Rutherford-Ferguson; and Chairman, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Capital Fund Mike Cunningham. Ms. Grant explained that it is the goal of the SBDC to continue serving those clients it had before the storm while creating opportunities for other existing MSMEs to bounce back even better than before.
“I need to emphasise this. We will continue to take care of our existing clients. What is being discussed today is additional resources that have allocated by our government and our partnering financial institutions to help the 2,525 active MSMEs across Abaco and Grand Bahama, employing approximately 4,000 people.” She said the government is providing five million dollars to guarantee up to 6.7 million dollars in loans through the Clearing Banks Association. Two million will be given equity in partnerships and 1.3 million in microloans and grants.
Ms. Grant stated that businesspersons displaced will fill out an application form. That form will be looked over and an executive summary created by volunteer advisors. Those summaries and supporting documents will then be sent to the relevant banks.
The form and list of documents needed is available on www.accessaccelerator.org under the title Resources, in a tab called Dorian. She noted that it is anticipated that the process will take no more than 10 business days and disbursements for grants and microloans will be processed in four to five business days. Mrs. Grant said displaced businesspersons who are currently in Nassau will be processed at the Edmund Moxey Centre on Baillou Hill Road.
In Grand Bahama persons can go to the BAIC building initially, until the one-stop shop is established at the CLICO building, for assistance.In Abaco, the NIB/Inland Revenue building will be made available.
The SBDC Executive Director noted that for businesses that have been in operation for less than three years, attendance at a three-day seminar would be required for them to access these opportunities as well. The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce will verify the authenticity of businesses seeking to access funding in order to ensure transparency and accountability.