PHILIPSBURG – The Government of St. Maarten in conjunction with a Dutch-based entity called Qredits will soon offer micro-financing to local small businesses.
This information was disclosed during Inside Government with Cedrick Peterson during an interview with Lucy Gibbes of the Ministry of Tourism, Economy Affairs, Traffic & Telecommunications and CEO of Qredits Elwin Groeneveldt.
Gibbes mentioned that through their research the small and medium enterprise is dominant in the economy of St. Maarten. “Most businesses here on the island fall in the area of small and medium enterprise, and they are always seeking information on how to write a business plan and financing,” said Gibbes.
Based on the information this sector has been requesting, the Ministry has been holding free workshops on various topics that are beneficial for small businesses. This has been done through funding from the European Union (EU), but now the Ministry has found a way to also offer financing.
The government of St. Maarten together with Qredits will soon set up shop here in St. Maarten, where the possibility will be for small businesses to access financing. Groeneveldt stated that most small businesses just want a small loan for probably $5,000, and this is not profitable for a small bank to give out such small loans.
“Qredits will offer another way for small businesses to get funds and mentoring through micro-financing,” said Groeneveldt. “Currently we have over 9,000 clients in the Netherlands that we have provided with a micro-loan of €50,000, which comes with online tools, mentoring by successful entrepreneurs and more.”
The idea of Qredits is to also offer this service to the entire Dutch Caribbean, so 14 months ago the program was introduced in Bonaire together with the government with the back office in the Netherlands offering the expertise.
“We have already given out 25 loans in Bonaire, and in April we will be opening an office in Aruba, and St. Maarten is next with the office expected to be open here on September 1, 2017,” stated Groeneveldt.
Gibbes mentioned that government will supply a onetime subsidy to Qredits with the possibility of doing it yearly. “Eighty percent of the economy exists of small businesses and they will have access to a pool of €250 million, and what’s so great about this is that Qredits is a non-profit organization, so their philosophy is different to a commercial bank,” said Gibbes.
During the interview, Gibbes stressed that if small businesses are assisted through micro-financing, which strengthens an economy, it also creates employment, a revenue stream for landlords and also government via taxes.
Persons interested in the micro-financing program can start to prepare themselves by visiting the website at www.qredits.com or by sending inquiries to the ministry via email@example.com or by calling 549-0220.
“It is important to note that we are looking for innovation, and not what the market already has a lot of, we encourage entrepreneurs to look at areas that are profitable,” Gibbes concluded.