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Access Accelerator and Fidelity partner to provide $5 million in small business loans

The Access Accelerator Small Business Development Centre (Access Accelerator) and Fidelity Bank Ltd (Fidelity) have partnered to facilitate $5 million in loans as a part of the Access Accelerator’s MSME Loan Guarantee Programme.

In total, the programme has $16 million allocated between three partner financial institutions – $1 million by the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, $5 million by Fidelity and a third partner soon to be announced. More financial institutions are expected to join to assist in facilitating the $22 million in loans for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises funded by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

Nicholas Higgs, Access Accelerator Deputy Director and Chief of Operations, explained how the loan guarantee would work.

Higgs said, “The guarantee is for our partnering financial institutions. It lessens their risk of facilitating loans to small businesses because the institutions know that regardless, through the funding provided by the IDB, they will be covered for 75% to 90% of the loans given.”

He continued, “Where small businesses win in this situation is that the environment for funding is more appealing to financial institutions. This means more opportunities for funding and a higher chance for approvals as more funding agencies take the step to help support the small business sector by being a part of this programme.”

The initiative is expected to strengthen the development of the private sector and its competitiveness countrywide said IDB Country Representative Daniela Carrera-Marquis.   

“The Inter-American Development Bank remains committed to supporting the country’s development goals and the financial sustainability of MSMEs in The Bahamas is a top priority, as we have outlined in our IDB Vision 2025 strategy,” Carrera-Marquis said. “This initiative assists MSMEs in securing short and long-term financial opportunities that will, in turn, help the country’s economic recovery coming out of this pandemic.

“Therefore, it is critical that we continue to support smaller businesses as an engine of recovery that acts as a primary source of employment for the nation and major suppliers of goods and services to the general population.”

Fidelity Chief Executive Officer Gowon Bowe described the partnership between Fidelity and the Access Accelerator as an avenue to further support national development and further educate business owners, highlighting the significance of private sector partnerships to aid the small business sector.

“The MSME Guaranteed Loan Programme provided an opportunity for us to partner with the Access Accelerator, which shares the common vision for national development, specifically through MSMEs. Businesses in the programme are not simply provided access to funds but are rather mentored through the business life cycle, with financing being but one aspect, albeit an integral aspect. By educating businesses on the best practices in expanding their access to their customers’ wallets; utilising digital payment solutions; and building equity and liquidity, the Bank and the Access Accelerator can nurture the highest possible probability of success for the impacted MSMEs.”

Bowe continued, “Through appropriate planning and execution, with the support of the Access Accelerator, Fidelity and other financial institutions that follow suit, those MSMEs accessing financing made available through the programme have an opportunity to build their own track record and financial credibility, thereby facilitating further access to capital markets and more advanced funding opportunities. With the financial support that the programme enables MSMEs in accessing financing, along with the mentorship that accompanies such financial support, there is a greater probability of successes by MSMEs and in turn national development; it is hoped that the successes of MSMEs in the programme will beget further successes through new MSMEs entering the marketplace and enhancing the competitiveness of The Bahamas.

“This is why partnerships such as the one created between the Access Accelerator and Fidelity are integral in establishing the merits of public-private-partnerships (PPPs), and demystifying the view that in The Bahamas such only exist in abstract communications. Fidelity confirms its commitment to the programme, and to similar partnerships and initiatives with the Access Accelerator, where the experience and expertise of this bank can support national development. Additionally, we look forward to mentoring and better serving our existing participants in the programme, which we expect in turn to support the development of future MSMEs.”

The Access Accelerator sees Fidelity’s participation in the programme as a tremendous vote of confidence in small businesses with the financial institution being the first Bahamian commercial bank to sign on to the organization’s guarantee programme.

The Access Accelerator is the product of a tripartite arrangement between the Government, through the Ministry of Finance, University of The Bahamas (UB) and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC). The Centre works to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas. Visit us at www.accessaccelerator.org.

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