PHILIPSBURG – Recent media reports regarding the agreement between the Public Entities of St. Eustatius and Bonaire, respectively and Qredits, prompted Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams to pose questions to Minister of Tourism, Economic Affairs, Transport and Telecommunication (TEATT) Mellissa Arrindell-Doncher on St. Maarten’s progress.
The MP informed the Minister that, former Minister of TEATT Ingrid Arrindell had informed Parliament that the Government of St. Maarten and in particular the Ministry of TEATT was in talks with Qredits to arrive at an agreement for St. Maarten’s MSME sector. Minister Arrindell in December 2016 had stated, “…And what is very important, is that there will also be a source of soft loans via Q Credits [sic]. Q Credits is a micro-financing agency in the Netherlands that provides unsecured micro loans to SMEs at competitive interest rates.”
“Qredits is a private foundation of public and private partners. It is the only nationally operating Microfinance Institution in the Netherlands and they’ve adopted a new sustainable approach to microfinance: a blend of traditional banking with a highly sophisticated IT support system.
Qredits’ vision is ‘to build a strong and independent entrepreneurship culture in the Netherlands by providing financing, mentoring and tools for micro-entrepreneurs that have a viable business plan, yet are unable to obtain credit facilities from conventional lending institutions; Stimulate new business start-up; Help (starting) entrepreneurs make an informed choice for entrepreneurship, Increase opportunities and survival rate of (new) businesses; Provide opportunities for entrepreneurs to become financially/economically independent; Bridge the gap for (starting) entrepreneurs to grow into the mainstream financial sector.’” Source: www.qredits.com
The MP’s questions are:
“1. What was the status of these talks when you took up the responsibility for the TEATT Ministry?
- Are these talks still being pursued?
- If so, how soon can we look forward to an agreement and or the execution of such an agreement for (micro) financing opportunities for the MSME sector on St. Maarten?
While I believe that other projects to strengthen the MSME sector are also important and will contribute to the sustainability of this sector, the general cry from many small and upcoming entrepreneurs is the lack of financing possibilities.
Many of these persons are young persons with great ideas and with technology being what it is, new business niches are within the reach of many. However finances remain an issue.
- Does the Ministry possess any data regarding this industry branch that gives an indication what the most pressing needs are of the MSME sector on St. Maarten? And if so, please share.
Finally, I also took note of the initiative launched by the collectivity of St. Martin, with a sort of mobile business help desk, which I believe is a worthwhile outreach program to empower micro and small business persons in the districts.
- Anything of this sort in the works for our MSME?”