More cash available for small businesses

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More financial assistance will be forthcoming for small business owners thanks to a half-million dollar boost to the Entrepreneurial Development Fund (EDF).

The Board of Directors managing the EDF were asked by Cabinet this week to consider making sums of less than $20,000 available for eligible nationals.

The rapid increase of prospective entrepreneurs amid the coronavirus pandemic was one reason mentioned by government as to why the measure was needed.

Information Minister Melford Nicholas explained, “We called the principals of the entrepreneurial fund to Cabinet to get some feedback from them as to the challenges they may be having regarding persons who would have come forward for funding.

“We have recognised that a number of would-be small businesses would be interested in small funds less than $20,000.

“The feedback that many parliamentary representatives have had from persons is that the conditions placed upon them at the EDF level has become very onerous,” Nicholas explained.

Nicholas shared that the directors of the initiative will now have to make certain adjustments to attract small business owners who are seeking small amounts.

“We have asked them to look at it and see whether or not they can streamline the process in a manner that a small entity that wants to start a new business with a small capital footprint of not more than $10,000 could get a fast track and allow for more entrepreneurial effort, to help to alleviate the precarious financial position that the state of Antigua and Barbuda is in,” he added.

The fund was launched by Prime Minister Gaston Browne in May 2019 and aims to assist young citizens with start-up capital for various business plans.

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