Friday, October 11, 2019
By YOURI KEMP
The deputy prime minister yesterday said the $15m provided by the government to-date to assist up to 2,500 Dorian-ravaged businesses is "sufficient for the time being".
K Peter Turnquest, speaking as the government provided further details on how Abaco and Grand Bahama-based micro, small and medium-sized businesses (MSMEs) could access the grant/loan facility it is providing, said some $5m had already been made available through the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and other channels.
Philip Davis, the opposition leader, has suggested that $100m will be needed, but Mr Turnquest said: "We have already made $5m available through the SBDC and other funding channels that were already positioned to help with funding MSMEs with existing funding. The additional $10m will now make it $15m, and we feel that on the onset this would be sufficient for the time being."
The $10m will be provided over the next three years through the SBDC, the Bahamas Development Bank (BDB), the Government-sponsored venture capital fund (BEVF) and the commercial banking sector.
The funds will go towards providing grants, loans guarantees and equity capital to help MSMEs on Abaco and Grand Bahama, which would not typically qualify for regular bank credit, restore their premises, inventories and operations in Dorian's aftermath.
Davinia Grant, the SBDC's executive director, responding to fears that persons already in its system prior to Hurricane Dorian will now be sidelined due to the focus shifting towards Abaco and Grand Bahama, said: "The Government of the Bahamas has provided additional resources so that the SBDC, the BEVF and the BDB can beef up our resources to be able to serve the new clients looking for assistance under the Hurricane Relief Fund. That means that our existing resources prior to Dorian will remain dedicated to serving our clients in the vein that it was happening prior."
She added: "We believe that there are some 2,500 businesses that were impacted by Dorian, but could not pinpoint an exact number for how many would be eligible for assistance as a result.
Ms Grant outlined the types of funding that will be made available through the Hurricane Relief Fund, adding: "Five million out of the $10m being provided will be used to guarantee loans up to $6.7m with some of the clearing banks."
She said different levels of funding will be available for different types of companies. Micro companies with average annual revenue under $100,000 a year will receive grants, loans or equity investments less than $50,000. Small businesses will be eligible for up to $250,000 in various types of funding, and medium-sized businesses with average annual revenue between $1m to $5m pre-Dorian will be able to access up to $500,000 to assist them with the rebuild.
Ms Grant said persons looking for assistance can download an application at the SBDC Access Accelerator website, and on all of their social media sites.
She pledged a maximum of four to five business days for internal vetting, with the external process taking a maximum of five days. The total turnaround time for approvals for funding above $50,000 will be a total of 10 business days.