Govt. inks $100M agreement to further assist small businesses


As part of its effort to continue supporting small businesses, the Government of Guyana on Friday signed a $100M agreement with the Small Business Development Finance Trust Incorporated (SBDF).

Under the agreement, the government will be providing financing at a concessional rate through the SBDF for lending to local small and micro enterprises in various sectors such as agriculture, retail, trade and manufacturing.

Finance Minister, Dr Ashni Singh and SBDF Chairman, Sattaur Gafoor signed the agreement on Friday at the Ministry of Finance, Main Street office.

Dr Singh said since it has been in operation in 2003, the SBDF has disbursed 6,835 loans at a total value of $4.5 billion.

“…Each small business of today is potentially the medium and large size business of tomorrow,” Dr Singh said.

He added, “Every single small business has the potential to grow if well-managed…and expand and to prosper and that is the environment that President Ali is creating step by step, block by block.

“An environment where every Guyanese person who wishes to set up a small business is able to do so and is operating in conditions where their business can grow and flourish and prosper and expand.”

Apart from funding, the SBDF also provides advisory and mentorship services. And over time, the government anticipates that thousands of small businesses will benefit from financing.

“The intension is that small businesses…who might not have access to the formal banking sector will start through the SBDF and will ultimately graduate out of the SBDF and into the commercial banking system,” he said.

According to Minister of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, said the funding will complement the efforts of the Small Business Bureau which currently offers a $500,000 grant.

Through the SBDF, Waldron said larger amounts will be available.

“It is notable that under this agreement the maximum interest rate that can be charged to small businesses is eight percent and this offers the best interest rate…than any other lending institution.”

Meanwhile, in brief remarks, Gafoor said, over the years the SBDF has grown.

“…It is not a paltry sum and above all at the concessionary rate of four percent. This would go a long way to assist our fund [and] assist small farmers, a number of whom is increasing for loans and this would really assist us in meeting those demands,” Gafoor noted.

The SBDF provides financial and technical support to micro, small and medium enterprises without access to Guyana’s formal financial sector.

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