5 granted loans under government’s EDF initiative

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Five local entrepreneurs were the first to receive loans from the government’s Entrepreneurial Development Fund (EDF).

The fund, which was launched by Prime Minister Gaston Browne in May, is aimed at assisting young Antiguans and Barbudans with start-up capital for varying business plans.

Recipients,Winston Ainsworth, Jean Piere Bloodman, Joanne Eastman-George, Akeem Edwards and Kanter Rawlins were presented with cheques at the Prime Minister’s office recently.

The fund began with a total of $12 million.

“Very shortly we’re expected to move to about $27 million. Global Ports should be contributing about $13.5 million,” the Prime Minister said.

“We’re now in discussion with others to include Royal Caribbean to also make a sizeable contribution to increase this fund”.

The fund will also receive periodic cash injections from a telecommunications tax that was introduced to fund the initiative.

“Continue to develop yourselves. Those of you… who do not have a degree or any formal training, you may want to at least commit yourselves to improving your level of training especially the specialty that’s associated with your business,” Prime Minister Browne advised the recipients.

The loan program aims to make capital more accessible by eliminating a significant amount of the normal bureaucratic procedures associated with financial institutions.

Interest rates are reportedly set at about two per cent per annum.