Representatives of Qredits with Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion (third left), Stephane Habichdobinger of Procontech (fourth left) and TEATT Minister Ludmila de Weever (fifth left). Not in photo is NRPB Director Claret Connor.
PHILIPSBURG–Entrepreneurs Lesley and Shirly Bruce of Kenny’s Car Rental and Management NV and Stephane Habichdobinger of Procontech are all smiles as the first small business owners to receive direct financial assistance from the Enterprise Support Project.
Both had applied via Qredits and were acknowledged in the presence of Minister of Finance Ardwell Irion, Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunications (TEATT) Ludmila de Weever and National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor during a brief ceremony on Tuesday, September 29.
Each business opted for the project’s Assets and Repair package and will only have to repay 35 per cent of the total amount received. Start-ups and existing businesses with a monthly income of less than NAf. 100,000 may pick from one of three packages offered and apply for a combination of loans and grants of up to US $150,000.
Qredits and Windward Islands Bank (WIB) are processing several applications and welcome additional entrepreneurs to apply as well. The project is funded through the St. Maarten Trust Fund, which is financed by the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank and implemented by NRPB on behalf of the government of St. Maarten.
The Asset and Repair Funds consist of a 35 per cent loan and 65 per cent grant. Qredits said in a separate press statement that it has already received more than 75 applications for the different Enterprise Support Programme packages which consist of an Asset and Repair grant-loan combination, a working capital loan or a refinancing option.
The Asset and Repair package is by far the most popular as it creates the most breathing room for businesses, as only 35 per cent has to be paid back and the remaining 65 per cent is a grant. Over the past three years Qredits has supported more than 300 entrepreneurs on the island through microcredit and bridge loans at reduced interest rates.
“We are grateful that this Dutch funding is now being made available to the entrepreneurs in St. Maarten after years of challenging circumstances,” said Qredits founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Elwin Groenevelt.
“We have been in conversation about this with the World Bank for quite a while and have been very busy over the past month processing applications. We warn our customers that the process is quite involved and requires a good amount of paperwork, but for diligent business owners this is an opportunity they do not want to miss out on.”
Currently 55 applications are under review by the Qredits team and hopefully soon by the NRPB team with whom they are in frequent contact.
More information on the Enterprise Support Project can be found at www.nrpbsxm.org/esp.