In excess of 200 businesses have already applied for the government’s Business Continuity Program, which provides a portion of a $20 million loan facility to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
And the numbers are expected to grow, according to Edison Sumner, who is the vice chairman of the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund (BEVF) – which is one of several entities facilitating the loans.
He said the parties involved have already begun reviewing those applications with the intent of administering a quick turnaround.
“We’ve seen an incredible amount of companies that have already begun applications for consideration,” he said yesterday.
“At the last count there were in excess of 200 applicants that had submitted requests for assistance and we’re certainly looking at those now. There [was a] commitment that was made by the partners who are involved in the process – and the venture fund that I serve as the vice chairman for. We certainly will be very involved in this, in fact, I think we’ll carry the bulk of the applications for this.
“But we have already begun reviewing and we’ve all made a commitment to review and respond with approvals to these applicants in a few days. So, there’s not going to be a long, drawn- out process. Once you submit an application and the application is complete with the information that’s required, then we are obligated to review that and respond within a few short days.”
The short-term loans are being offered at an interest rate of five percent to MSMEs with annual revenues of up to $3 million or less, and provides financing to maintain salaries and working capital to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic.
Applications are being submitted to the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) before they are forwarded to prearranged partners that would be facilitating the loans. The other private entities that have partnered with government are Cash and Go, Fidelity Bank (Bahamas), Leno Corporate Services, Omni Financial Group, Simplified Lending as well as the quasi-government entity The Bahamas Development Bank.
“There’s a severity now of the situation and people need to be able to access funding so that they can keep persons employed and try to keep their businesses operating through this period,” Sumner said.
The SBDC began accepting applications on Thursday.
SBDC Executive Director Davinia Grant said last week that based on demand she believes the entire loan facility will be exhausted.