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SME initiative to improve access to capital

The chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation has said that proposed legislation will help SME owners gain access to capital. 

Friday, June 29, 2012
Friday, June 29, 2012

Proposed legislation to help small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in The Bahamas will assist business owners in accessing capital, according to Winston Rolle, chairman of the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC).

In 2010 the BCCEC developed a proposal for new legislation supporting SMEs.

To draw up the framework, chamber members looked at similar legislation from other jurisdictions, including Ireland and the United States.

According to Rolle, the chamber foresees a structure partially managed by the government, but with significant input from the private sector and offering some fee-based services, which would make it easier for SMEs to approach lending institutions.

“This organization is not going to be directly lending money,” explained Rolle. “When somebody comes to this organization it works with them, helps with research, looking at the market, helping them put together their business plan and financial projections.”

A total of $750,000 in funding has already been secured for the new SME initiative through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB’s) Caribbean programme, Compete Caribbean, and according to Rolle the legislation has been drawn up and finalized.

“We now have a heightened sense of the need and the value of entrepreneurs in this country; we just have not had the support structure. We are hoping that pretty soon that is going to change and we will provide an environment where entrepreneurship will really flourish.”

Most Bahamian companies have fewer than 20 employees, with SMEs making up 80 per cent of the BCCEC’s membership.

Speaking at a recent seminar organized by the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services (BIFS), Rolle said SMEs faced a number of challenges and said there needed to be more partnership and support in the private sector to help overcome them.

“One of the challenges SMEs [owners] have is that they are so busy running the business, they do not have time to manage the business. This is the reality. We need to do a much better job of working together.”


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