1 July 2023

Govt signs $100M loan agreement to boost small-business financing

July 1, 2023
Senior Minister in Charge of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh (from right), Minister of Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, handing over the cheque to the Chairman of SBDF Mr Sattaur Gafoor and other senior board members of SBDF
THE government aims to boost access to financing and promote the growth of small businesses with a $100 million loan agreement signed by Senior Minister in Charge of Finance Dr Ashni Singh, with the Small Business Development Finance Trust Incorporated (SBDF).
Dr Singh explained that he was honoured to be a part of and participate in the simple but extremely important signing ceremony on Friday at the Ministry of Finance office.
The SBDF was established in 2002 and its mission is to strengthen the economic base of micro and small-scale sector entrepreneurs in Guyana through increased access to lending, technical support and non-traditional financial facilities.
The Finance Minister emphasised that the SBDF Board, which includes two of Guyanas prominent entrepreneurs Mr. Sattaur Gafoor and Mr. Hemraj Kissoon, who are now business moguls, started off as modest family-owned business.
As such, he noted that each small business of today has the potential to become the medium and large-sized businesses of tomorrow.
Government, he said, will provide the loan at a concessional rate to SBDF for lending to small and micro-business enterprises in Guyana.
According to Dr Singh, the $100 million financing facility will be utilised by the SBDF through the provision of loans at no more than eight percent interest rate to individuals or companies wishing to develop and expand their small or medium enterprises.
Signing of the loan agreement with Minister of Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, Senior Minister in Charge of Finance, Dr Ashni Singh (centre), and Chairman of SBDF, Mr Sattaur Gafoor
I want to emphasize the significance and importance of this occasion; it is not by accident or coincidental circumstance that the government of Guyana has chosen to enter this strategic partnership with SBDF. Mr Gafoor is well known for his humility and his modesty, and so he will be the last to speak of his achievements and the achievements of SBDFbut it is important that we recognise, and I speak on, this extremely important national institution.
The Senior Minister of Finance further stated that SBDF started its mission of assisting Guyanas smallest business owners with a total capital investment of $21 million, and according to him, Mr Gafoor provided $11 million and the then President, Dr. Bharrat Jagdeo, later contributed $10 million on behalf of the Government of Guyana. He also added that since its founding, SBDF has disbursed 6,835 loans with a total value of $4.5 billion.
According to him, Given the modest base with which it began, how many entrepreneurs would have received assistance, and how well that portfolio would have had to have performed for the capital base to remain intact, in order to facilitate the lending, repayment, re-lending, and repayment and repeated turnover of this very modest capital. That is the environment that President Irfaan Ali is endeavouring to createstep by step, block by blockan environment where every Guyanese person who wishes to set up a small business is able to do so and is operating in conditions where the business can grow, prosper, and expand.
While describing the several ways in which the government has helped small businesses, the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, stated that through the loan that SBDF has received, more Guyanese will receive more support.
Minister Walrond said, Today we are adding one more arrow in the quiver or tool in the tool-kit of our mechanisms that we are implementing as government to support small businesses. As you know, under the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, we have the Small Business Bureau established under the Small Business Act to help carve out a space of support for small businesses. We have had under the SBB several one-stop shops for training and support for small businesses, as well as a help desk. There is the Small Business Development Fund thats also been established under the Small Business Act, dispensing loans and grants to small businesses.
The Tourism Minister further stated that, under the Small Business Bureau, there is a scheme where the government guarantees loans for small enterprises, making it easier for them to obtain credit from commercial institutions.
She also made reference to the Local Content Act, which she noted is intended to create room for Guyanese small enterprises to start up and develop in the oil and gas industry.
While adding that This loan facility will complement and not compete with the efforts of the Small Business Bureau, which offers a maximum of $500,000.
Finally, the Chairman of SBDF, Mr Sattaur Gafoor, expressed his gratitude for the governments efforts to support the entity in providing much-needed assistance to small businesses.
According to the business mogul, it was an honour that the government had partnered with the entity to lend SBDF $100 million in order to support small businesses, which he noted will help the fund greatly.
Mr Gafoor said, The SBDF has grown over the years to meet a cross-section of demands, more particularly those involved in agriculture, and this will most certainly help in meeting those demands.

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