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Charles Pink, Chair of the Board of Trustees for The Cherry Tree Trust, at the launch of the new charity at Ernst & Young’s offices yesterday.


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Small business boost


By Nadia Brancker

From seed to healthy fruit is the vision of The Cherry Tree Trust, a new charity launched yesterday to drive the small business sector in Barbados. The vision of the Cherry Tree Trust is to foster economic and social growth in Barbados by enabling small businesses to get started or get support to grow.

Charles Pink, Chair of the Board of Trustees, outlined the charity’s guidelines: “Our target customers are small businesses with less than 10 employees and turnover of less than Bds$500 000 per annum. We have a particular interest in supporting new start-ups as they find it especially difficult to access finance.

“We will lend Bds$25 000 to an existing business and Bds$15 000 to a start-up. Our loans will be for a term of up to five years. Crucially, we will lend unsecured. And we will charge interest at five per cent.”

He believed what distinguishes The Cherry Tree Trust is the quality of the people involved and the passion for this cause. The other distinguishing feature of The Cherry Tree Trust, according to Pink, is its donors. “What donors want, I think, is for their dollars really to be out to work in making a difference,” he said.

Pink elaborated, “The Cherry Tree Trust will provide loan finance to small businesses in situations where banks and other financial institutions are not willing to lend. The Cherry Tree Trust will complement the work of established financial institutions by meeting the lending needs of the small business that would typically fall short of the criteria. We see this as an important gap, an unmet need in the market that needs to be filled.

“Small business are of course a critical sector for a vibrant economy. In particular they are crucial source of employment, but they often struggle to find finance. This may be because of a lack of a trading record, especially in the case of start-ups, or a lack of security or other assets to give the bank comfort. It is in these situations that The Cherry tree Trust can supply loan finance.”

Pink also gave the assurance that the Cherry Tree Trust does not aim to compete with the banks and credit unions. “Rather we aim to complement these financial institutions. We will provide finance when they will not. Indeed, it will be a condition of our lending that the customer evidences having first been declined for finance by a financial institution,” he said. “Our customers do need a viable business proposition. We do want to get our loans repaid so that we can then relend to another needy, small businesses.”

He also highlighted the charity’s commitment to the business’ success. “A critical part of our position is that we will offer each customer to whom we grant loan a mentor. Our mentors are experienced business people who can handhold our customers, bringing the value of their having been there and done that,” he explained.

The Cherry Tree Trust website was launched yesterday which would have all the information needed including application form, the business plan template and details of how to apply.

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