Grants offered in BEDC business relief plan
Direct grants of as much as $15,000 will be paid out to companies as part of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation's business assistance programme.
The BEDC yesterday released details of how $12 million in grants and direct loans and another $12 million worth of guarantees on bank and other loans would be made available to small and medium-sized business struggling during the Covid-19 crisis.
The total amount of funding that any business can receive will be based on the business's annual revenue or number of employees.
Funding thresholds for the BEDC Business Sustainability and Continuity Funding Programme are divided into five bands of financing with the first four allocated to small businesses and the last band allocated to medium-sized businesses, according to definitions of size in the BEDC's legislation.
Funding will be distributed in tranches based on an agreed-upon schedule with a minimum six-week and maximum three-month disbursement period. The disbursement of the last tranche will be tied to ensuring the business meets its conditions with regards to retaining and/or re-employing a percentage of Bermudian staff.
The lowest band includes businesses with up to $100,000 of annual revenue and one to three employees. This group is eligible for maximum funding of $10,000, of which the maximum grant relief is $5,000.
The largest grants available are for the fourth tier of businesses with annual revenue of $500,000 to $1 million in annual revenue and one to ten employees. They are eligible for $30,000 of funding, of which $15,000 can be a direct grant.
The top end of the range includes medium-sized businesses with 11 to 50 employees and annual revenue of between $1 million and $5 million. This group would be eligible for maximum funding of $40,000 and no direct grant relief.
The BEDC stated: “It was decided that medium-sized businesses would not be eligible for the grant relief as they would be in a better position to take advantage of BEDC's other Covid-19 financing support with external entities such as the banks through guaranteeing bank loans and overdrafts.”
Erica Smith, executive director of the BEDC, said: “The funding programme is designed to assist as many viable small and medium-sized businesses as possible to tread water and stay afloat, while our island perseveres through the state of emergency, shelter in place and social distancing requirements necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19.”
The BEDC added that conducted a review of 17 jurisdictions around the world that were aiding small and medium-sized businesses impacted by Covid-19. The review indicated that a combination of loans and small grants were being provided to help businesses. A local survey, as well as an assessment of more than 100 requests to BEDC for financial support also helped the organisation to decide how to divide up the $12 million in government financial aid and the $12 million of BEDC's guarantee capacity.
Details of answers to the local survey from 90 small businesses were given in a webinar yesterday afternoon, by Jamillah Lodge, the BEDC's director of communication and development.
On the question of how Covid-19 had affected their operations, the top responses were no revenue, unable to pay taxes, accounts receivable going unpaid, forced to close and cannot pay rent. On the question of what more the Government can do to help them, the top answer was to defer or waive payments such as payroll tax or social insurance.
The guarantees can be applied to loans from banks, credit unions, private companies, foundations and individuals, the BEDC added.
This programme will be in place for at least until December 2020 or until the funds run out, whichever comes first.
The BEDC added: “Approved applications will be provided to businesses to assist them with covering immediate necessary business expenses like payroll, rent and other mandatory costs associated with operating that have been impacted as a result of Covid-19.”
The programme “is available to all existing small and medium-sized businesses, island wide, including vendors and those businesses located in a designated Economic Empowerment Zone”, the BEDC said.
“Although available to all businesses who meet the criteria, BEDC desires to support as many of Bermuda's small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as possible. As such, BEDC reserves the right to prioritise applications based on our assessment of need.”
Key details on the relief are:
• Approved financing packages are 100 per cent guaranteed by the BEDC
• No credit check fee required
• Repayment terms are up to 42 months
• First repayment of loan is three months after the month in which the funds were first drawn down
• Interest-only repayment periods will be automatically applied for the first three months once payment commences followed by principal and interest payments
• Interest-only payments can be extended on a case-by-case basis for an additional three months
• In addition to the combined loan and relief grant, small businesses can also be approved for a BEDC-guaranteed bank overdraft subject to a maximum of $70,000 in combined funding of loan, grant, and overdraft.
• BEDC will only approve direct loan funding for medium-sized businesses to a maximum of $40,000. However the first expectation is that medium-sized businesses will be assisted through BEDC's $12 million Guarantee Fund to guarantee bank loans and overdrafts
• The funding must be used for immediate operating or working capital payables
• Processing and approval will take place within ten business days from receipt of a complete application
• Disbursements will be made one business day after approval is received
• BEDC will phase disbursements
Interest rates and application fees for the programme have been reduced significantly in order to provide further relief for businesses impacted by Covid-19.
Under its Guaranteed Loan and Overdraft Programme, BEDC acts as a guarantor of last resort and can guarantee up to 75 per cent of the value of a bank loan or overdraft up to prescribed limits for businesses “that are viable and where the credit worthiness of the borrower is sound”. The maximum guarantee available is up to $300,000 for up to five years, and for a bank overdraft, up to $50,000 up to 18 months.
Processing and approval times for guarantees is 15 business days from receipt of a complete application. BEDC's loan and overdraft guarantee currently works with HSBC, Butterfield, and Clarien. Other lending entities will come on board once approved by BEDC.
Applications will be available for this new funding from April 22.
For more information about the programme, contact BEDC at 292-5570, firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to www.bedc.bm