I have long believed that entrepreneurship is the key to solving some of the world’s biggest problems. Here in the British Virgin Islands, we have a huge opportunity to empower people to use their entrepreneurial skills to contribute to the rebuild of a stronger, smarter, greener, and better BVI.
At Virgin Unite and Unite BVI, we’ve carefully looked at where we feel our support can have the best impact for the BVI in the aftermath of last year’s hurricanes. We are focusing our efforts three key pillars to help with the long term recovery of the BVI. These are: community - specifically on education, which I wrote about recently; environment and entrepreneurship.
I’m proud to introduce the KickStart BVI Small Business Loan programme. Our vision is to financially empower and support social entrepreneurs in the BVI so that they can contribute to the region’s social, cultural, environmental and economic development.
In order to support BVI small businesses, and to ensure as many as possible are able to benefit from our programme, Unite BVI are giving out micro-loans of between US$2,000 and US$10,000. These loans are interest-free, require no down-payment or collateral, and have customisable repayment plans.
They are available for BVI residents over 18 years old, running BVI-based businesses. To qualify for the loan, you must have been operating your business for at least a year, have no other access to financing, and be contributing to the region’s recovery. The first batch of applications is now closed, but another will follow later in 2018.
Entrepreneurs who successfully receive micro-loans will be partnered with business mentors or strategic/finance coaches to support your personal and business development. As we have seen with our efforts in the UK at Virgin StartUp, and I have experienced first hand throughout my career, this mentorship is the most vital support for building a successful business.
I would urge applicants to listen to the needs surrounding your communities when you are developing your business proposals. Entrepreneurs don’t exist to make money; we exist to make a positive difference to society. When you find a problem and a solution to solve it, to benefit others as well as yourself, that is true entrepreneurship.
The entrepreneurial spirit in the BVI is unparalleled, and we want to help more people take great ideas and turn them into thriving businesses, which will create much-needed jobs and opportunities for the wider community. Go to KickStart BVI to learn more.
Of course, running a business isn’t for everyone, but everyone can be entrepreneurial. Unite BVI are also developing a re-training project to help 900 people in the construction and maritime sectors to build the necessary skills to support in the recovery of the BVI. We’ll share more on that project soon. In the meantime, head over to Unite BVI to find out more.