Funding Small Businesses

Funding Small Businesses in Trinidad and Tobago

There are several means of funding small businesses in Trinidad and Tobago

Businesses need startup capital to meet preliminary expenses, purchase of fixed assets and operating or working capital. Business persons should be careful to determine accurately their funding requirements. They have to recognize that there is always a requirement for them to contribute to tapple-589640_640heir project.  This is an expectation of banks and other financial institutions and your contribution can be in cash and other personal assets.

There are various types of funding of small businesses:

Personal Assess these include:

You have to start saving if you intend to go into business.

• Personal and family savings, deposits and life insurance policies
• Real property, vehicle and other fixed assets already owned by the trainee and needed in the business
• Input resources (raw materials, stocks, etc.)

External Financing

Debt financing through banks and other financial institutions in which interest has to be paid. Other types of financing in which interest is paid include financial leases, hire purchase agreements, etc.

Equity in which an investor makes money available for use in exchange for an ownership shear in the business. This could be as silent or limited partner (not actively involved in the business) or as a shareholder.

Grants– This is often provided by government and international agencies, non-government agencies, wealthy philanthropists etc. They may be willing to advance funds to startup business for selected projects and on conditions that differ from grantor to grantor.

The various types of funding small businesses are hereunder desired in detail.

Personal assets
All prospective entrepreneurs have to be concerned with their savings/contribution to their business.   Once you approach a financial institution for funding, it will require that you make a contribution to your future business. This contribution can be savings, fixed deposits, property, machinery or equipment. It is therefore necessary that in your planning you take this into consideration and prepare and implement a personal financial plan.

Commercial banks and other financial institutions (inclusive of finance houses, insurance companies)

Money borrowed comprise debt and your ability to borrow money will be informed by your existing debt ratio and the ability of the business to repay the loan. Banks will provide personal and commercial loans. Banks require a business plan and collateral to secure the loan. Many small businesses hire persons to prepare their business plan. Even if this is so you should work with them so that you will be aware of what is being done and so can answer questions about it if asked by the bank officer. I always suggest that you test your business model by taking your product/service to your customers and getting feedback from them that will fashion the final business product or service.

Banks such as Republic BankFirst Citizens Bank, Royal Bank, and Scotia Bank,     The JMMB Grou Island Finance TT  finance small business

Business associates and other private investors

Care should be taken before using this type of funding. Check out very closely who you want to get involved with in business. Always have a legal document done to finalize such funding. Normally profit sharing will be a major consideration.

Family and friends
These persons also provide sources of funds. Treat such injections of funds into your business as loans and there should be a written/legal agreements for repayment. This will avoid later conflicts when you have a successful business and there is  a fight for profits. Even if the relationship between you and your friends is a good one remember that death can bring into the business the rights of heirs who may create much conflict. Break up of marriages, disputes in families can all threaten the continued success of the business. Start how you intend to continue, do not be hurry to get money without working out all possible problems.  Remember when borrowing from business associates, friends and family to be open with them about the state of the business especially if the business is presently experiencing difficulties.  let them decide if they want to accept the risk.  it is often advisable not to use these sources of funds at this time.

Entrepreneurial Relief Grant from the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with NEDCO.

Micro and Small Enterprises that have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic are invited to apply for the Entrepreneurial Relief Grant from the Ministry of Finance in collaboration with NEDCO  MSEs that earn less than TT $1,000,000 in annual revenues, and have been negatively impacted by the global pandemic, can apply for financial help through the Entrepreneurial Relief Grant Programme. MSEs can access up to TT $20,000 in grant funding to help cover business-related expenses such as salaries, rent, stock and other working capital.

The Grant Fund Facility (GFF)

The Grant Fund Facility, established by the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, provides new opportunities to develop small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that:

  1. are involved in the production of high value-added products and services that can compete in export markets; and
  2. foster the economy’s diversification thrust.

This facility is administered by ExporTT Limited and assists SMEs in eight (8) designated sectors, with the acquisition of new capital requirements/expenditure. Through this facility, local business persons can access individual Grants from the fund up to a maximum of $250,000 per beneficiary to finance 50% of the cost of the acquisition. (The Grant does not cover working capital, land and building costs, and installation costs). Application forms are available at the link

Micro-Enterprise and Training Grant

It is given to assist in empowering and transforming the lives of citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, allowing greater self-sufficiency and financial independence. The grant which is a maximum amount of $5,000.00 is paid directly to the supplier or suppliers of the goods or services required to start the business. It is available through the Ministry of the People and Social Development in Trinidad and the THA’s Division of Health and Social Services in Tobago. An officer is assigned to work with the recipient of the grant to ensure the success of the business.

The National Integrated Business Incubation System (IBIS)

This is a project developed by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development (MLSMED); this programme is created to provide a unique mix of business development support, infrastructure, operational and financial assistance that will assist in the growth and success of new and existing micro and small enterprises (MSEs).   Specifically, IBIS will assist MSEs by providing assistance in the areas of mentoring, infrastructural support, Information Technology, operational support, financing, as well as networking opportunities for access to local and foreign markets.
Funding for small business – IBIS will provide seed capital for clients (from $5,000 to $50,000). However, IBIS will create a facilitative environment so that clients may source additional funding from NEDCO or other financial institutions to fully fund their projects.

National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited -NEDCO’s Loan Ceiling

The company has increased its loan entry ceiling from $100,000 to $250,000 for first-time borrowers, and up to a maximum of $500,000 for second-time borrowers. This allows it to assist a wider range of businesses and offer more support to persons who dream of becoming successful entrepreneurs.

It provides business advisory services to enhance the competitive and innovative edge for your business. Its Business Development Officers offer real-time relevant information in areas such as Marketing, Financial Management, Business Planning and Records Management. The company also has an Entrepreneurial Training Institute & Incubation Centre (ETIIC) which provides specialized knowledge/advisory services in all areas of entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) development.


Development Finance Limited (DFL)

DFL will consider financing for any project that will enhance, improve, expand or increase your business. Each project/loan application is considered on its own merit and the loan or Line of Credit is structured to meet the requirements of that project. The projects considered include but are not limited to: Plant and Equipment Needs, Raw Materials, Refurbishment, Information Technology Upgrades, Vehicle Acquisition, Agro-processing, Construction and Infrastructure Works, Manufacturing, Contracts and International Trade

Caribbean Micro Finance Ltd – is a regional microfinance institution that provides loans and financial services to micro-enterprises in the Caribbean. It has as its Mission  to provide loan financing and business services to local communities of micro and small entrepreneurs who pursue profitable business initiatives on a permanent basis and sustain themselves as responsible citizens.


The Enterprise Assistance Grant Programme– Business Development Unit (Tobago)

The Business Development Unit (BDU) of the Division of Finance and Enterprise Development, comprises of the Enterprise Assistance Fund and the Strategic Business Development arms. The mandate of BDU is clear… support the growth and development of startups and existing businesses in Tobago (homegrown businesses) while also encouraging direct foreign investments/businesses into Tobago. Its products are Business Grants, Loans and Training.


Youth Business Trinidad and Tobago
Loans of up to $30,000 are granted to both start-ups and existing businesses at a rate of nine percent (9%) on the reducing balance and without the use of collateral. Generally, YBTT will fund any type of project, with the exception of bars, gambling enterprises, Internet Cafés, DVD Stores, Mini Marts and Vehicles.

SME Stimulus loan – Republic Bank

The Government of Trinidad and Tobago (GOTT) has launched a $496M SME Stimulus Programme with the aim of supporting micro, small and medium enterprises impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Loans will be facilitated via participating Commercial Banks i.e. Republic Bank, Scotiabank, First Citizens Bank and RBC Royal Bank.

The SME Stimulus Loan is a Government guaranteed loan. In its initial Phase, the loan is granted for a maximum of 5 years with a 2-year moratorium on principal payments. The GOTT guarantees 75% of the loan and no payment is required by the customer for 2 years. The interest on the SME Stimulus Loan will be paid by the GOTT and there are no handling fees on these facilities.

Website: Republic Bank

Credit Unions

Many credit unions have small business windows. Piloting the move towards business lending is Eastern credit Union and Mt Pleasant Credit Unions. Many of the others have a long tradition of lending for business especially for machinery and equipment. They normally require that your business is registered and that you have a business plan among other things.

Agricultural Development Bank of Trinidad and Tobago

The mandate is to encourage and foster the development of agriculture, commercial fishing and associated industries, i.e. the ‘farm to plate’ concept including all segments of the production chain-support services, marketing and agro-processing. Its new reality loan is for:
• Business startup, expansion or rehabilitation of an existing project
• Purchase of materials and inputs for your projects
• Construction of farm buildings
• Infrastructure development

Other Support/Funding Facilities in Trinidad and Tobago- 

Some funding options may be availabel from NGO’s, CBOs, FBOs. 

Bizexposed gives a wide range of financing options

For Online sources of funding try crowdfunding

Crowdfunding at a Glance
Crowdfunding is a method of raising capital through the collective effort of friends, family, customers, and individual investors. This approach taps into the collective efforts of a large pool of individuals—primarily online via social media and crowdfunding platforms—and leverages their networks for greater reach and exposure.

On crowdfunding websites, you create promotional material and open a page for your business or project so that you will be able to accept financial backing from visitors to the site.  Before committing to anything you are advised to read the documents including the fine print to ensure you are in agreement with what is being requested.

Share your experiences with us:

Have you used any of the above methods and what has been the result?

Are there methods/issues that were left out and that we should consider?

Do you have any concerns that we should address?

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