Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis yesterday announced the launch of a new small business grant program that would provide grants of up to $5,000 to Bahamian entrepreneurs to start or expand their businesses.
During a national address, the prime minister said $1 million has been allocated for the program, which is being facilitated through the Access Accelerator/Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and which would provide individual entrepreneurs and micro-businesses the funding needed to purchase the equipment, supplies and materials necessary to either start a business or boost their current enterprises.
“These are grants or funds that these entrepreneurs get to fund a specific business need that they have. These funds do not have to be repaid. To date, the SBDC has received over 400 applications toward the $500,000 that has been budgeted for the program,” he said.
“The response has been so positive that the SBDC has shifted its budget to add an additional $500,000 to the program, to bring the total program allocation to $1 million.”
Another $1.5 million component of business support is also expected to be launched soon, the prime minister noted, this time for adults under the age 30.
“I am pleased to say that shortly the SBDC will launch its Youth Programme that will provide grants, loans, training and business support for young Bahamians aged 18 to 30. The government and the SBDC recognize that our young people have incredible determination and drive. Many of them have a strong desire to work for themselves,” the prime minister said.
“My government wants to nurture their sense of entrepreneurship and ownership. The experience of the SBDC is that young applicants also require substantial training and business support to turn their dreams and ideas into viable and sustainable businesses. Accordingly, the SBDC has budgeted the sum of $1.5 million in its new Youth Programme that will provide grants, loans, training and business support for young entrepreneurs getting into their first business or expanding their existing businesses.
“They will be active participants in an extended program over several months to ensure that the young Bahamians in the program get the funds that they need. We also help them to obtain the skills, support and sustainability measures that will help them to remain successful entrepreneurs.”
Adding that the government is making good on its $55 million commitment this fiscal year to support Bahamian entrepreneurs and small businesses, the prime minister highlighted that to date the Minnis administration has allocated $52.7 million in loans and grants to more than 950 micro and small business – $40 million of which was in direct support to businesses impacted by Hurricane Dorian and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Never before in the history of our country have Bahamian entrepreneurs obtained this kind of direct small business support. We will be doing even more to create opportunities for Bahamian entrepreneurs. You may recall that based on the recommendation of the Economic Recovery Committee, I recently committed this government to $50 million per year in support for small businesses over the next five years – for a total of $250 million in support for Bahamian entrepreneurship,” he said.
“I wish to add today we will continue to set aside sums for specific segments of our population to ensure that marginalized and under-represented groups in our Bahamas get specific attention. Accordingly, of the $250 million five-year commitment, my government will set aside a minimum of $25 million specifically for entrepreneurship programs geared toward Bahamian youth and toward women. I wish to be clear, while there will be funds directly targeted for certain segments, including young people, all Bahamians are eligible to seek grants.”