SBDC Rolls out the Government’s $20 Million COVID-19 Response

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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance stated that last week the Small Business Development Centre rolled out the Government’s $20 million COVID-19 response, targeted to provide loans to small businesses, ranging from $5,000 to $300,000.  Approved loans will have a payment grace period of four months. Partnering financial institutions will facilitate the actual loan processing– to include the vetting of the required information, the approvals, the issuing of funds, and the collection of payments after the four-month moratorium, DPM Turnquest explained as he announced an update on the Government’s stimulus measures in response to COVID-19 in the House of Assembly, Monday, March 30, 2020.

He noted that these loans are earmarked for operating costs such as paying salaries, rent, insurance, utilities and inventory/supplies. “Existing small businesses – companies operating with a valid business license for one year or more – can apply to the program. To be part of the initiative, companies must agree to retain 51 per cent of their staff and agree to have credit information shared with the Credit Bureau and other banking and financial institutions in the future. “So far, the Bahamas Development Bank, the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, Cash N Go Ltd, Leno Corporate Services Ltd, Omni Financial Group Ltd, Simplified Lending Ltd, and Fidelity Bank Bahamas have agreed to participate in the program. Hundreds of applications have already started coming in through the SBDC.”

The DPM stated as of Friday last week:

● 616 micro, small and medium sized businesses (MSMEs)
registered for assistance with the SBDC

● Of that, 382 businesses completed the full application
process

● These businesses represent 1,082 full-time employees and
243 part-time employees

● In total, they
have formally requested approximately $14.88 million in financial assistance

He said the $20 million allocated by the Government for MSMEs will ensure that all businesses who qualify have the support they need to protect their livelihoods and the families represented by their workforce. The SBDC has also been one of the lead advocates for the deferral of existing loan payments by commercial banks for entrepreneurs who may already have loans with lending institutions. “I am pleased to advise that the Bahamas Development Bank, the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), CIBC First Caribbean and Scotiabank have publicly pledged to defer loan payments for their business clients — although the terms differ by bank.”

DPM Turnquest said he commended these agencies for the speed in which they have rolled-out these services. Under some very difficult circumstances, civil servants have been going the extra mile to ensure Bahamians have access to the support their government has promised. He urged all individuals who are eligible for these benefits to apply for the assistance available to them through Social Services, NIB and the Small Business Development Centre and to use the financial assistance wisely over this rough period. The DPM stated, “As a reminder, these services are being delivered online, in keeping with the mandates of the Emergency Orders; so we encourage the public to please make inquiries and applications for each agency online.”

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