Attention on Foreign Investment also on tap
PHILIPSBURG:--- Minister of Economic Affairs Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher and the team of the Department of Economy, Transportation & Telecommunication (ETT) is preparing a major roll-out of the Qredits Microfinancing program to support small business development through small business loans. Qredits is the one of two initiatives that the Minister will launch to stimulate Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s). Attention to increasing Foreign Direct Invest (FDI) is also being planned.
The Minister stressed that the empowerment of Sint Maarten’s SME’s, especially considering that these enterprises account for 80% of all businesses on the island, is extremely important for the future of the country. The access to microfinancing, she added, is an issue that young entrepreneurs have called for and that government has recognized that it must facilitate.
“Small businesses maybe a little under appreciated by the general population and they may not generate as much money as large companies, but they are a critical component of and major contributor to the strength of our economy. Small businesses present new employment opportunities and serve as our building blocks,” the Minister said.
“Most importantly, small businesses also help stimulate economic growth by providing employment opportunities and attract talent who invent new products or implement new solutions for existing challenges,” she added.
Qredits, a foundation in Holland in existence since 2009, offers unsecured micro and small business loans to qualified individuals while the risk is carried by Qredits. An amount of about € 250 million has been made available for SME’s on Sint Maarten. According to Lucy Gibbes Department Head of ETT, “Qredits has the advantage of creating employment through job creation and increase revenue collection by government.”
The necessary preparations for Qredits, which includes the set-up of a front office with two local loan officers, is already underway. The project will run as a 2-year pilot. Further discussions will also take place on how to implement the aspects of entrepreneurship in the school curriculums.
As for the other two initiatives, primarily focused on FDI and MSME’s, the Minister said we are all looking forward to the official opening of a planned establishment that can drive economic sustainability by assisting businesses to form, grow and thrive. We envision this entity as a vehicle to provide professional business advice, research and training to business owners and new entrepreneurs to promote growth, innovation, productivity, and management improvement,” she said, adding that more information will be released shortly.