More than $2M spent on Self Starters Program
The government spent over $2 million on the Self Starter Program in the past four years, according to Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Charles Maynard.
The program is a government initiative to foster self employment among Bahamians between 18 and 30.
The government approves start up capital of up to $5,000.
“The total number of applications submitted for Self Starters Grants during the period under review (July 2007 to October 2011) is 1,064.
“Of this number, 508 persons receive grants,” said Maynard as he tabled the evaluation report on the program in the House of Assembly yesterday.
“The total amount of funds disbursed during this period is $2,330,427.44.”
According to the report, to date the Self Starters Program has yielded a 64 percent (295 business) success rate; 17 percent or 80 recipients are still under evaluation and 19 percent or 87 businesses have been dissolved.
“The success rate of Self Starters far exceeds that of the formal private sector average which sees seven of 10 businesses fail within their first three years of operation,” Maynard pointed out.
The report also reveals that the program has created nearly 300 jobs among the businesses that it has supported.
But despite the investment that the government has made in the program so far, one of the identified challenges in the report is the lack of resources.
“Due to an intensified marketing strategy, there are a greater volume of approved applicants, which far exceed the available funds,” the report says.
As a result, it is recommended that the government substantially increase funding for the Self Starters Program.
“The growing popularity of the program has put the government in a not so peculiar dilemma of having a greater demand for this initiative than the necessary supply of investment resources to meet the growing number of successful applicants,” Maynard said.
“Of course, that simply means the applications have become more competitive and I am pleased to report the business proposals and concepts have also become that much more innovative.”
The report recommends the government develop and implement an “effective monitoring and assessment component that provides a timely evaluation to effectively cater to the deficiencies that contribute to the dissolution or lack of the improvement of businesses”.
The report also recommends that more focused attention be placed on the program.
“Notwithstanding the establishment of a unit specifically dedicated to the administration of the Self Starters Program, there were deficiencies in the monitoring and evaluation of the businesses and inordinate delays in the processing of the financial matters for approved applicants,” the report says.
“These deficiencies would have diminished the ministry’s capacity to be more proactive in its administration of the program primarily in ways in which the interface between the recipient and the unit could foster greater business success and sustainability; and, to provide empirical data that would inform the selection committee.”