Government pledges $25 million over five years to SME development.

The government will invest $25 million to help develop small and medium-sized enterprises over a five-year period Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has announced.

Dr Minnis also announced that business license fees for new businesses and businesses making under $100,000 will be waived this year. Businesses will still have to undergo the licensing process. “The government is committed to the enhancement and development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, known as SMEs,” said Dr Minnis.

The government commitment to a $25 million dollar investment for the development of small and medium-sized businesses will occur over a five-year period in increments of $5 million per year. The government intends to fund this initiative through the sale of its shares in the country’s two mobile service providers Aliv and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC).

“The initiative has several objectives. We want to enhance the business development of SMEs through innovative programs and joint ventures with the government, the private sector and the University of The Bahamas, to help provide training and capacity building for new and existing entrepreneurs. “The initiative will provide specific support for entrepreneurship and SME development within marginalized groups, especially poorer communities and youth organizations.”

Dr Minnis also announced the streamlining of the business licence process, “by creating a single point for submission of all applications related to the opening of a business”. Dr Minnis also announced the development of a Small Business Development Center of The Bahamas this year. The center will be spearheaded by the government, the University of The Bahamas, and the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation, with support from the Organization of American States.

“This center will provide a resource for all Bahamians to receive advisory and technical support when seeking to open a business or expand their operations,” said Dr Minnis. “The center will steer entrepreneurs to available funding opportunities through government or private means. It will also assist business owners in navigating through the regulatory and tax registration requirements for a new business.”

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