The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) spends approximately $248,000 per month to facilitate “a complement of 14 posts in order to meet the substantial increase in demand for new financial products”.

Bermuda Real received several requests for more information in follow-up to the Ministerial Statement made by Premier David Burt last week.

Updating MP’s on the progress of initiative undertaken by the BEDC, Mr Burt said “the demands of its expanded entrepreneurship education offerings and entrepreneurial development initiatives” has also grown.

When contacted by Bermuda Real, Jamillah Lodge, BEDC Communication and Development Director said: “Our budget for this year is $2.97 million.

“We receive a grant from the Government in the amount of $2.56 million which is no increase in grant from 2018/19 fiscal year,” she added.

“Our monthly spend is therefore approx. $248 thousand per month.  Salaries and benefits are 54 percent of overall budget.”

Over the last 24 months, she said: “We’ve restructured the organisation to meet the demands of the various new initiatives the Government wishes us to implement inclusive of increased loan guarantees direct lending (micro loans), the formation and support of incubators, student entrepreneurship, tax concessions, entrepreneurship education, etc.

“We have budgeted for 14 posts – five (5) employees were hired this fiscal year between June and October 2019 inclusive of 2 starting in October.”

Addressing his parliamentary colleagues last Friday, Premier Burt said the Government was making “inroads” and that “entrepreneurship” in Bermuda was growing.

“There are more accessible options for business financing; bureaucracy is being curtailed; and Bermuda is wholeheartedly embracing innovation!

“Thanks in part to increased and sustained grant funding the BEDC received in fiscal years 2018/19 and 2019/20 from this Government, I’d like to highlight key achievements it has made in Bermuda’s entrepreneurial eco-system,” he added.

The BEDC provides “financial support and technical advice to small and medium-sized businesses; for overseeing the Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZs]; for growing outside vendor markets; and for managing vendors and issuing vending licenses”.

“The organisation’s key objective is to assist the Government in encouraging economic growth for Bermuda’s local, small and medium sized businesses.”

Initiatives Highlighted:

  1. Entrepreneurship Advisory Services
  2. Entrepreneurship Education – This year, 52 existing and budding entrepreneurs have graduated from the courses thus far. By the end of this year hundreds of Bermudians will have graduated from at least one of the BEDC’s entrepreneurship education courses
  3. Entrepreneurship Financing
  4. Youth Entrepreneurship – The Summer Student Entrepreneurship Programme [SSEP] – piloted during Summer 2018 with ten (10) students between the ages of 14 and 20 years old being selected

The BEDC currently offers the following products to assist entrepreneurs:

  • Loan Guarantees
  • General Micro Loans
  • Debt Consolidation Micro Loans
  • Sports Club Micro Loans
  • Retail Goods Customs Duty Deferment
  • New Start Up Entrepreneur Payroll Tax Relief
  • EEZ Payroll Tax Relief
  • EEZ Customs Duty Deferment; and
  • Vending Licenses

Twenty-seven (27) businesses were approved during the 2018/19 fiscal year for direct micro loans [general and debt consolidation resulting in $431,816 of BEDC’s funds lent, surpassing 2017/18 figures. In addition, 20 businesses had their bank loans supported by the BEDC in 2018/19 through $1,693,059 in guarantees securing a total of $3,816,101 in loan funds.

The decision to increase the BEDC’s loan guarantee percentage from 50 percent to 65 percent resulted in five (5) businesses receiving approved bank loans, surpassing fiscal year 2017/18 number for approved loan guarantees.

Twelve [12] businesses were approved for micro loans in the first five months of this current fiscal year resulting in $183,156 of the BEDC’s funds being lent. Multiple applications are actively being processed for both micro loans and loan guarantees. The BEDC anticipates surpassing the previous year’s approval numbers.

The BEDC recognizes that it cannot assist entrepreneurs on its own and as such continues to partner with Bermuda’s Financial Institutions to also provide access to capital and products to small and medium sized businesses.