The Access Accelerator, Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) announced that the Government increased its funding for hurricane relief investments of microloans from 15,000 dollars to 50,000 dollars for businesses impacted by Hurricane Dorian.
Davinia Grant, Executive Director of the SBDC, stated that the Government’s increase for companies on Grand Bahama and Abaco during the Abaco Town Hall Meetings in Marsh Harbour.
Grant said, “Another thing that I am really happy to announce tonight is that before today we would have told you that the Government has allowed us to offer you a 5k standalone grant based on your application. We can do up to 20,000 dollars in a matching grant, matching any other form of funding. We were funding up to 15k for microloans. Now we have the opportunity to do up to 50,000 dollars in microloans.”
Nicholas Higgs, SBDC’s Senior Business Analyst, explained that the difference between a regular loan and the SBDC’s microloan is the approval process.
Higgs said, “A normal loan goes to an external financial institution, so Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Bahamas Development Bank, Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund, they are external institutions. The SBDC decides as a committee once a business has made it to that point if we will put our stamp of approval on it. Next, the business is sent to those financial intuitions for them to go through their risk department then approve or deny. If the business is approved, it receives money, if denied, we take the feedback from the institutions and assist the entrepreneur with making necessary adjustments.”
Higgs continued, “The microloan is approved once the SBDC’s committee approves the business, then we can distribute the money to vendors on behalf of the funded company. By increasing the microloans from 15,000 dollars to 50,000 dollars, it allows us to be able to give more to businesses that need it and in a quicker process.”
According to Higgs, banks are less inclined to touch smaller funding requests to focus on the bigger ventures, making the increase in microloans extremely beneficial to small businesses.
“Most banks aren’t touching the 80,000 to 90,000-dollar requests. They are funding the very big ventures. That makes that 80,000 to 90,000-dollar businesses are a key market in need of assistance, and they really represent the small businesses. The increase in microloan funding now allows us to assist that vulnerable sector of the entrepreneurial ecosystem better.”
While speaking at the town hall meeting, Grant also stated that the SBDC had about 1.2 million dollars in approvals for businesses on both Abaco and Grand Bahama.
“I want to report on where we are thus far. I can tell you that as of this afternoon, approximately 1.2 million dollars in funding is approved for both Abaco and Grand Bahama,” Grant said. “In terms of approvals, of that 1.2 million, about 40% of that is for Abaco businesses. So far, 200,000 dollars has been distributed on behalf of the businesses to vendors.”
Grant continued, “We are making good progress, but our goal now is to increase the team in Abaco to quickly close the gap between approvals and disbursements.”
The SBDC 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 will work to guide the development, funding, growth, and evolution of Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (“MSMEs”) in The Bahamas.