Jamillah Lodge: What Does BEDC Really Do?

December 28, 2014

[Written by Jamillah Lodge]

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation [BEDC] was incorporated in 1980 as the Bermuda Small Business Development Corporation [BSBDC] to actively assist the development of a strong, well managed and prosperous small business sector in Bermuda. In 2011, the BSBDC Act was amended to expand its remit and as a result the BSBDC changed its name to BEDC to encompass its expanded legislation.

So what’s in a name? What does the BEDC really do? In the words of one of our stakeholders “we help people who want to start their own business”. This is a true statement, but what type of help does BEDC provide? Technically speaking we assist with:

  • the provision of technical advice or assistance to persons who are seeking or who are granted financial assistance;
  • the granting of loan guarantees or other forms of financial assistance;
  • the operation and management of vendor markets;
  • the oversight and management of the development and implementation of the economic empowerment zones; and
  • the maintenance of a Register of Small Businesses, Medium-Sized Businesses and Economic Empowerment Zone Business Entities

What does this mean for the average person looking to start up a business? In the first instance the technical advice and guidance BEDC provides is FREE! Thanks to an annual Government grant, we are able to assist existing and potential entrepreneurs with their ideas and help make their dreams a reality. If you have an idea of owning and operating your own business, stop by the BEDC offices on the first floor of Sofia House to see how we can help you get started.

In addition to assistance with technical advice, BEDC offers financial assistance in the form of loan guarantees. Our loan guarantee program can help those, with great ideas and limited collateral; get the financing they need to start their business. We have two guarantee products: 1] our traditional loan guarantee that is available to all local Banks, which provides an approved applicant with a guarantee for 50% of the loan amount up to $200,000 and 2] our Microloan Guarantee offered through Clarien Bank provides approved applicants with a 100% guarantee of a loan up to $7,500.

As a result of the BEDC Guarantee, hundreds of business owners have realized their dreams. Guarantees have been issued to business owners in industries including food services, construction, health, personal care and business services. One of our clients, in the health care industry stated,”When I was ready to set up a medical/surgical practice in Bermuda, I went to BEDC for assistance with presenting my business plan to the local banks. Their help allowed me to secure the $100,000 loan I needed. When in need BEDC stepped up to the plate.”

If you don’t need financing for your business, BEDC can also help by providing you with educational opportunities. Since its inception, the BEDC has hosted seminars on a variety of topics that can help with business planning. In addition to general business, our seminar topics also focus on specific industries including: tourism, care facilities, food services, retail, Green & Blue business and eBusiness. Be on the lookout for the next seminar focused on starting a Senior Care Facility which is scheduled for early 2015.

As a resource for the local business community it is important to include all aspects of business including those non-traditional forms such as micro-enterprises like vending. The BEDC established the Vendor Market initiative which assists vendors with a peddlers’ license by providing them with a designated area to sell their wares in a positive family setting. Since starting this initiative there are over 200 vendors who have registered with the BEDC. Many participate in the 3 markets which the BEDC supports; the Rubber Tree Market in Warwick; the Hidden Treasures Market in Somerset; and the Olde Towne Market in St. George’s.

Roxanne Christopher, the EEZ Officer responsible for overseeing the Rubber Tree market initiative stated, “The BEDC Vendor Markets showcase the entrepreneurial spirit of Bermudians in its truest form.” Starting in late January BEDC will be holding its Vendor Market Seminar Series for the second year. This series of seminars will prepare vendors for operating at the highest standards in 2015 and those that complete the entire series will receive a certificate of professional development. In addition, in order to better support the local vendor community the BEDC has tabled legislation that will be approved in 2015 that will change the Peddlars’ License to the Vendor License and move responsibility for managing the sector with the BEDC.

Continuing with the goal of working with and for the community led to the formation of, the Economic Empowerment Zones [EEZ] initiative in 2007. Erica Smith, BEDC Executive Director, stated “An EEZ is a designated geographical area where special programmes are implemented in order to relieve hardship or economic disadvantage or to assist disadvantaged persons to achieve equal opportunity.” Currently there are three Zones – North East Hamilton, Somerset, and St. George’s. Some of the tools that are used to assist EEZ businesses to grow and become more sustainable include: BEDC Loan Guarantee; BEDC Micro Loan; EEZ Payroll Tax Concession; EEZ Custom Duty Deferment; and preferential loan rates and terms from HSBC Bermuda and Butterfield Bank.

As part of the newly expanded legislation, BEDC through a partnership with KPMG supports medium sized businesses by providing educational seminars to assist business owners with issues that more seasoned entrepreneurs encounter like: managing through the economic downturn, representation of the sector on economic policy matters, business succession & transition planning, obtaining financing, identifying growth opportunities and supporting expansion, Human Resource strategies to recruit and retain staff.

To date, five seminars have been held to address some of these issues. KPMG Partner Steve Woodward said “KPMG is pleased to continue to partner with BEDC to provide support to the Medium Sized Business Community, hosting seminars on a variety of topics to help business owners better manage and run successful businesses.”

The partnership with KPMG is just one of many ways the BEDC seeks to advocate on behalf of its client base. BEDC continuously looks for ways to add value by negotiating reduced rates for BEDC members with advertising companies, insurance companies as well as other service providers. The Business Register of local businesses supports the BEDC with achieving its goal of supporting the local business community in as comprehensive manner as possible. Being a member of the BEDC Business Register provides great benefits to business owners including:

  • Deposit insurance coverage up to $25,000
  • A Unique Business ID#
  • Monthly Updates about local happenings in the Business Community
  • Priority notification of BEDC Seminars and Events
  • Priority invitations to participate in industry-related workshops
  • Networking opportunities with other business owners/potential partners

The BEDC’s advice and support for Bermuda’s local businesses is second to none and we pride ourselves on being the foremost resource for small and medium sized businesses and community enterprise through the provision of effective technical guidance, financial support, useful relationship networks, pertinent business intelligence and timely business and data-based policy advice. A testament to this can be seen in the most recent list of Bermuda Tourism Authority [BTA] experience grant recipients of which several of them are BEDC’s clients who have received our guidance and advice to build a solid business idea.

Since Bermuda has been awarded the 2017 America’s Cup, there will be tremendous opportunities for the Island’s entrepreneurs. Senator, the Hon. Michael Fahy, JP, Minister of Home Affairs states “This Government is committed to economic growth and prosperity for all Bermudians, and our local entrepreneurs are seen as one of the key mechanisms to achieve this. The America’s Cup will be an economic stimulus for the Island and for those who are entrepreneurial this is an opportunity to take advantage off.

“As Bermuda hosts this incredible event the BEDC will play a key role in preparing and positioning Bermuda’s small and medium-sized businesses to be able to access those business opportunities that arise, which in turn will contribute to the continued development of a vibrant economy in Bermuda. From business plan advice through to business financing, the BEDC can position new and existing businesses for success. I would encourage any local entrepreneur to visit the BEDC to see how they can assist your business.”

To facilitate the ease of registering as a member, the BEDC is launching its new website. There, our members will have access to all of the information about what is required to start a business in Bermuda at their fingertips. Please check out our new website at www.bedc.bm and let us know what you think.

As an organization, the BEDC is here to serve the local business community and we are committed to your business success. Let BEDC be your first stop to starting your business.

Jamillah Lodge is a Business Development Officer for Bermuda Economic Development Corporation. She specializes in providing aspiring and existing entrepreneurs with business development advice and loan guarantee assistance. In addition, she manages the marketing and communications plan for the Corporation. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer and should serve a general guide and should not be considered as replacement advice from a lawyer, accountant or other professional service provider. Readers should consult with the appropriate professionals as necessary. If you have questions about starting a business in Bermuda, email BEDC at info@bedc.bm or call 292-5570.

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  1. js says:

    since everybody is so gung ho that the America’s Cup will provide business opportunities for would be entrepreneurs

    someone needs to clearly spell out what business opportunities

    and leave the vague double talking to the politicians