Opinion: BEDC’s Small Business Assistance

September 24, 2014

[Opinion column written by Nick Kempe]

Yesterday’s opinion article is quite timely as it provides me with the opportunity to both highlight the many resources available to entrepreneurs as well to clarify the support available to new and fledgling businesses.

Tangible help. The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] supports the development of entrepreneurship for small and medium enterprises and all businesses established in an Economic Empowerment Zone [EEZ] with:

  • Financial support: the loan guarantee program provides up to 50% collateral on bank financing. This is meaningful support for those that may not have otherwise had the financial means to access working capital, which can be a major access barrier to entrepreneurship. Furthermore, the 100% secured micro loan with Clarien Bank provides fast access to small amounts of capital to grow or replace revenue-generating assets. As of the end of August 2014, BEDC is currently assisting 50 businesses access over $6 million in bank financing through guaranteeing some $2.2 million of those loans.
  • Technical advice: BEDC officers have much experience working with start-ups in a broad cross section of industries. Furthermore, the BEDC is working towards improving standards through certified professional development. Just this year, one officer received Ice House certification which specializes in start-ups and another received Streetwise ‘MBA’ certification focused on more established companies.
  • Regulatory roadmap: Operating a business in the real world means paying taxes, ensuring health and safety compliance and protecting your investments according to the laws of the land. BEDC cannot do these things for entrepreneurs, however a toolbox to help navigate the regulations is provided [here].

Business plan. One of the most important things a would-be entrepreneur can do before making the leap is to create a business plan. A properly prepared business plan will quickly highlight what information one may not have considered. Most financial institutions require a business plan before even contemplating financing. A business plan should force an entrepreneur to assess what may happen in a competitive marketplace and realistically prepare the operator in case revenues do not grow as imagined. BEDC will assist with the business planning process, but will not author business plans for entrepreneurs. The planning process is an integral part of starting off on the right foot and those that assign this task to others do themselves a disservice. Often times through the self-planning process, the entrepreneur can assess the feasibility of an idea and can avoid some pivotal mistakes.

Incentives. There are many incentives available to entrepreneurs depending on the decisions they make when getting into business. Some incentives are offered directly through the BEDC, such as the EEZ Payroll Tax Concession and the EEZ Customs Duty Deferment, and others are offered through other Governmental departments thanks to BEDC lobbying. There are many incentives and exemptions ranging from preferential rate BEDC financing products to payroll tax relief for businesses that choose to set-up in certain locations or market sectors. The BEDC will be launching in October a comprehensive document on all the incentives and concessions currently provided for businesses in Bermuda. Although incentives are put in place to assist with the establishment of a business, they are typically offered for an established amount of time because one should not rely on incentives alone to start up a business. At some point, as an entrepreneur, one must be able to operate without incentives.

Education. Yesterday’s piece praised the recently launched Streetwise ‘MBA’™ for existing entrepreneurs with three years experience and at least one employee. This program was introduced to fill a gap in the entrepreneurial education landscape. The author’s lament that there is nothing for new, fledgling or grassroots enterprise is mis-informed. BEDC offers a myriad of educational opportunities throughout the year, including:

  • Community Education Entrepreneurship Course. This eight-week course is offered three times a year. The spring course will incorporate the acclaimed Ice House curriculum thanks to BEDC’s investment in professional development [more here].
  • Industry specific courses. These include our Small Business Construction Incubator and our Retail Development Programme.
  • Seminars and discussions. BEDC offers an average of 9 seminars a year. In the last 12 months, we have offered seminars on various topics, including: Starting and operating a day care, identifying and managing the costs associated with starting a business; a three part series targeted to vendors on the requirements and opportunities that exist for microenterprise; local opportunities that exist in the tourism industry; partnering with KPMG to offer a five part series targeted to medium businesses focused on strategic planning, succession planning, increasing profits and managing human capital; through a partnership with HSBC, BEDC offered a strategic planning series; working with partners like PwC and Deloitte; partnering with the Department of E-commerce BEDC offered a series of seminars on starting and operating an online business; and, through a partnership with the US Consulate, BEDC facilitated a free online MIT entrepreneurship course. Between January and May of this year, BEDC held or participated in 23 seminars, workshops, and events focused on entrepreneurship. The outreach at those events resulted in some 830 persons, especially young people, being exposed to entrepreneurship best-practice.

The BEDC is constantly adapting to the needs of the start-up community. As a QUANGO, we have the lobbying power of direct Government access coupled with the flexibility of a private organization. The Officers and Board are engaged and committed to advocate for business success. We are building on success and offering new products and services for today’s entrepreneurs.

Failed businesses don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan. Come see BEDC first where we are committed to your business success.

-Nick Kempe is Chairman of the Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] as well as Vice-President of Bermuda Forwarders Ltd.

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Comments (4)

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  1. Jeremy Deacon says:

    Many thanks Nick for this. I want to stress, that I was not – and would not – criticize anyone in your organization. I have always found them to be extremely kind and helpful.
    There are a few things here that are worth discussing, but I’d much rather do it over a coffee with you.
    Just one thing I did not lament that there was nothing new, I lamented the fact that the MBA was not open to younger business.
    Drop me an email and we’ll fix up a coffee.

  2. Double Standards says:

    I was not aware of these opportunities for small businesses.

    Thanks for the info. and will see you soon!

  3. bluebird says:

    ANOTHER GOVERMENT DEPARTMENT.
    Now if they were so good why don’t they go into Business themselves
    Man they are AX-sperts,wont be long for us to have a “BOOMING ECCONOMY”
    Now how many years has this been going on since the PLP/BIU.???

  4. bluebird says:

    Do they have ANY IDEA’s as to how to pay-off the $5Billion dollar DEBT
    and “BALANCE” the Budget????????????
    (note) $1Billion civil service pension and $2Billion Government pension underfunded and the $2.5Billion government is paying $10Million per month “INTEREST” on.
    Come on Government Business AX-SPERTS.tell us how to do it.