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A helping hand for small businesses

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The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation team is constantly adapting its service offering to best serve the Island’s small- and medium-sized businesses.

Today, I want to highlight three of our new initiatives that have been put in place to better serve the small business community.

Ice House Entrepreneurship Programme


We are extremely pleased to be able to offer this renowned entrepreneurship course from the Kauffman Foundation.

Whereas the recently launched StreetWise MBA was focused on growing established small businesses, the Ice House programme is focused on a “bootstrapping” approach to start-up phase entrepreneurs.

This semester we will be offering this course starting October 6 for seven weeks instead of the Community Education entrepreneurship course, as we feel it provides better value to those interested in going into business.

From the StreetWise programme, we learnt that there is a very real gap in understanding business financials, so we will be tailoring a specific course to meet that need for upcoming Community Education offerings.

The co-creator of the Ice House course, Gary Schoeniger, will also be coming to the Island this month to promote the programme, so pay attention for seminar opportunities and speaking events.

Duty Deferment Letter of Credit

There has been a woefully underused policy for retail duty deferment on the books since 2009. Turns out that to benefit from this policy, a letter of credit was required and in many cases it needed to be secured by cash.

Obviously, if the cash was available it made more sense just to pay the duty and avoid the bank fees.

We are very pleased to offer this pilot programme, which provides a $200,000 guarantee fund, to assist retailers with cash flow on imports.

Each business that participates in this pilot programme will be allowed to defer up to $10,000 each in customs duty over a three-month period.

Each approved business will be able to establish a line of credit for this duty deferment for a period of one year.

At the standard duty rate of 22.25 per cent, each letter of credit will ease the carry costs of almost $45,000 worth of imported goods at a time. This product, which would not have been possible without the collaboration of HM Customs, will be reassessed after the initial year.

Business Register Survey

Lobbying, policy and support are what we live for at BEDC. However, we are only as effective as our sector information.

The board and executive have been able to identify changing needs and better assess resource allocation with the implementation of performance metrics.

But we also need existing sectorwide information that is updated regularly.

To better capture this information, we will be asking the members of our business register to update their information by way of a short survey once a year.

We will be able to use the industry trends captured in this data set to better advise our clients and to lobby for policy changes to better suit changing small business needs.

The data, once stripped of confidential information, will be shared publicly to allow entrepreneurs and researchers to analyse in ways we may not have thought, thus leveraging this asset for greater public benefit.

These are exciting times and we are happy to see net employment growth in the small business community.

Next month, I will update on Global Entrepreneurship Week, which kicks off in November.

If you have questions about starting a business in Bermuda or applying for any of our programmes, e-mail the BEDC at info@bedc.bm or call 292 5570.

• Nick Kempe is chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation

Nick Kempe