NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (December 31, 2019) – Women, and men younger than 35 years old now have the opportunity to borrow up to $100,000 for the establishment or expansion of existing small businesses, thanks to an EC $5million loan from the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) to facilitate the process through the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU).
At the official signing ceremony for the loan agreement between the NIA and Taiwan International Cooperation and Development Fund in relation to Nevis Small Enterprise Re-Lending Project at Government Headquarters at Pinney’s Estate on December 30, 2019, His Excellency Tom Lee, Republic of China (Taiwan)’s Resident Ambassador to St. Kitts and Nevis spoke of the significance of the loan.
“There is no doubt this loan agreement is a very important one because women and young gentlemen in Nevis, if they want to open their businesses they need to borrow money from the bank but without good credit history it’s impossible for them to get the money they need but with this loan agreement it’s possible. So they can get the capital they need and open their business.
“In addition if you look at the bigger picture, this loan agreement can also be a stimulus to the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis. Let’s say you’ve got 50 people opening their business you can imagine you can have a pretty good impact on your economy, and then in the future if we have 100, if we have 500, I believe the economy of St. Kitts and Nevis would benefit tremendously,” he said.
The ambassador used the opportunity to urge those eligible to take advantage of the loan facility which came about due to the good relations shared by his country and the Federation.
“Based on the cordial relations between our two countries we are very pleased to make available this loan, and I therefore want to encourage people in Nevis to make the most of it.
“I don’t know what would be your New Year resolutions for the year 2020 but this can be a pretty good one, and please be brave and embrace your future,” he said.
Meantime, Hon. Mark Brantley, Premier of Nevis and Minister of Finance, explained that the idea of the lending programme was developed by the NIA to provide an avenue to pursue small businesses or to expand existing businesses.
“That fund will hopefully be accessed by individuals here – women and youths who have an idea, who develop that idea, who bring forward a practical, workable, marketable idea… We have limited the amount to EC$100,000 per applicant because it’s a small amount of money that’s available ultimately, and so the ambassador is right that if we can use this as a stimulus to allow business to start and to grow, we hope that will have a multiplier effect throughout the economy.
“We recognize that large investors are important but we also recognize that small investors and small business is also critical if the island is going to grow and develop and if the economy is going to expand and that is the reason why we have been trying so hard to get to this point and why I am so grateful today, before the end of the year, that we can sign these documents to ensure that starting in January we can start to accept applications from members of the public,” he said.
Mr. Brantley, reminded those who would be beneficiaries of the loan that it has to be repaid in order to replenish the fund.
“The idea is when you come you borrow the money from SEDU we are going to give it to you at a very concessionary rate of interest, much lower than the banks would lend you, and we are going to make it available to you on terms that would make it easier for you but you have to understand that the loan is a loan, not a gift.
“It is repayable, and the reason why that is important is because it allows us to replenish this fund over time, and so to help more people. So each time you pay back it allows us to advance funds to others who might also have a business idea as well,” he said.
The Premier added that they planned to hold boot camps to work with the public to try and encourage them and educate them on the whole process of what business is all about.
Mr. Brantley who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs thanked the government and people of the Republic of China (Taiwan), through Ambassador Lee, for their assistance.
“I have said it often and I will continue to say it that the Republic of China (Taiwan) is not just our friend, the Republic of China (Taiwan) is our best friend…
“I would want you to take back please to President Tsai and the entire government our warm appreciation for this. I know I speak on behalf of the people of Nevis and the wider Federation when I say that these funds are going to be put to good use and that the people who we hope to benefit are the ones who will be charged with taking our economy forward and ensuring that our economy grows and expands,” he said.
The ceremony was chaired by Mr. Colin Dore, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance in the NIA.