It may be very challenging for individuals without access to finance to start their own business. Some may have very good business ideas, but without funding, they would not even be able to take the very first step. Funding is therefore an important element that needs to be considered closely when setting up a business.
The Ministry of Business and Employment has engaged extensively with the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce (GCC) and the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses (GFSB) to develop this initiative. These two organisations are the two main representative bodies for businesses in Gibraltar and, as a result, they have been actively involved in this project.
Further, as Minister for Small Businesses, one of my first actions after the general election was to set up a Small Business Board, forming a direct line of communication between the Government and the private sector. The aim was and is to establish a forum where businesses can voice any concerns or issues to the Government and where these concerns can be discussed. It is here that the Ministry regularly meets with members of the GFSB and the GCC, as well as other members of the business community, and ideas such as the GBNS are proposed, considered and ultimately become a reality.
It is widely known that small businesses constitute a critically vital part of our economy and are essential to its continued success. Small businesses are also, collectively, the largest employers in Gibraltar and bring in new ideas, new business and keep existing businesses on their toes. This competition can only be a very good thing for consumers and for the businesses themselves. It therefore goes without saying, that as a Government, it is important that the right conditions are provided and maintained for these small businesses to establish themselves, grow and to create further employment opportunities.
It is important to stress that the GBNS scheme itself is not just limited to start-ups, but established businesses will also be able to apply. An existing business may have a new venture that they are interested to launch or may wish to expand and accelerate their current business for which they require the finance to do so. Some businesses may be in a position where they have reached a slowdown on sales and intend to change direction and reinvent their business, but are unable to do so because of a lack of funding.
Applications for the GBNS scheme will be assessed on a points-based system by a committee of three individuals, comprising one member of the Gibraltar Chamber of Commerce, one from the Gibraltar Federation of Small Businesses and an official from the Ministry of Business and Employment.
Applications will be assessed on their individual merits and the criteria that will be implemented when evaluating applications include evidence of demand, innovation, sustainability and risk and whether the project represents good value for money, amongst other considerations.
The funds will be released by way of loan, with a fixed interest rate of 2%. The loans themselves will be limited to a maximum sum of £25k and repayable over 5 years.
Commenting on the launch of the GBNS, the Secretary to the Gibraltar Business Nurturing Scheme and Business Support Unit Executive, Christian Olivares noted: “I am very pleased that Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar will be able to further contribute to the local economy by offering the opportunity to members of the public to start their own business or to help those small businesses that wish to expand.”