Small businesses may need years more help from BEDC
Joyce Hayward, an entrepreneur and former accountant general, believes pandemic-hit small businesses could need the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation’s help for the next five years.
“They will definitely need help for the next year,” she said, “probably two years. Long term it may be five years before they completely work their way out of pandemic related issues.
“The BEDC is already doing a great job, and they need to continue doing more of that.“
The owner of accountancy firm Fusion 4 Business was speaking after David Burt, the Premier, announced in the Budget Speech that the BEDC will continue helping pandemic-hit businesses.
Ms Hayward welcomed this news and said she looked forward to learning more in the Chamber of Commerce Budget breakfast on Monday.
“I will be looking to see if government will give more money to the BEDC to continue helping small businesses,” she said. “That will be key for some businesses to get additional funding, or for ones that were not eligible before to get funding.”
Since the pandemic began she has been helping many small businesses get their finances in order to apply for assistance with the BEDC.
“I have been really busy during this period,” she said. “People don’t realise that accountants are frontline workers. I have been in business for six years and this has definitely been my busiest time.”
It has also been her most creative time.
“Just yesterday I was brainstorming with a client on how to create new revenue streams,” she said.
She said some small businesses had to change tack completely during the pandemic, so it will be like starting over after the pandemic.
“They are having to figure it out and get their cashflow to catch up to where it was before,” she said. “And for those in the hospitality industry, it will take a while for the tourism numbers to come back up.”
She said many small businesses were still struggling due to frequent quarantine related shutdowns.
“I have clients that are nurseries that have had to shut down when the whole class has to quarantine,” she said. “They still have to pay their rent and pay overheads. It is really difficult.
“This is where BEDC would have to come in. The good thing is Government has not negated that will still be an issue.”
She has other questions for the breakfast. She said in the Budget Speech there was also new hire relief promised for businesses that have a payroll of more than $500,000.
“What about the small businesses?” she said. “It could be that some things are being extended that we have not seen as yet. They mention relief for hotels, but sometimes small guesthouses are not included in that. The budget statement is a broad brush, but this is where we want to delve down.”
She said mortgage protections offered to businesses in the budget will be great for small businesses who own their own building.
“I have seen quite a bit where companies may have gotten behind because of Covid-19,” she said.