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HomeEconomyFinancial support for small businesses expands as OBNA joins ESP project

Financial support for small businesses expands as OBNA joins ESP project

PHILIPSBURG: The country’s small businesses have even more avenues for growth and support with the addition of the Ontwikkelingsbank van de Nederlandse Antillen (OBNA) as the newest financial institution to partner with the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Enterprise Support Project (ESP).

With a subsidiary agreement signed on May 30, 2022, OBNA joins Banco di Caribe, Qredits, and the Windward Islands Bank (WIB) as partners of the ESP.

Sustainable growth of Sint Maarten’s economy cannot happen without a vibrant and thriving small business sector. However, lack of access to financing has limited small business development in the local market, particularly for operations run by young entrepreneurs and women. Through collaboration with the partnering financial institutions, the ESP project provides grants and facilitates low-interest loans to micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises to stimulate the local economy’s recovery from the twin blows of Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Maria in 2017 and the recent COVID-19 pandemic.

As of June 1, 2022, the ESP has provided 134 local small businesses with financial support to tune of more than US $10.1 million. These businesses come from almost every sector of Sint Maarten’s economy, from hospitality and tourism to construction and fishing.

The focus on growth and development makes OBNA a perfect fit for the ESP. Established in 1981 as a development bank for the Netherlands Antilles, OBNA’s mission is to provide capital, knowledge, and networks to support sustainable socio-economic development and human empowerment in Sint Maarten, as well as the rest of the Dutch Caribbean.

OBNA is based in Curaçao and will be represented locally by the St. Maarten Investment Agency (SMIA). Owned by the Sint Maarten General Pension Fund (APS), SMIA strongly promotes sustainable economic growth and recovery. OBNA will have representatives stationed in Sint Maarten to help facilitate applications for the ESP project.

“We are very happy to have OBNA onboard as a financial partner of the ESP, as its mission closely aligns with the goals of the ESP. We both strive to assist small business owners, while growing our local economy through capital investments and knowledge sharing,” said National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor. “Through our targeted support and hand-in-hand collaboration, we not only give small businesses access to financial resources, but we help build a resilient and agile pool of entrepreneurs, who are better equipped to weather the potential financial storms ahead.”

“We are very pleased to work with the NRPB, as a partnering financial institution, to support the economic development of especially the small- and medium-sized enterprises in Sint Maarten. We, as OBNA Bank, are committed to this project and are more than willing to assist with the economic development of Sint Maarten. We sincerely hope that this relationship will go the distance,” said OBNA Managing Director Shurmel Elias.

“It has been a tedious process to have OBNA as part of the ESP program. And I am happy to see OBNA back on Sint Maarten. This inclusion gives small and medium-sized enterprises another resource by which to apply for funding,” said Finance Minister Ardwell Irion.

Entrepreneurs, as well as those who want to open their own businesses, are encouraged to visit www.nrpbsxm.org/esp for more information about the project, its eligibility requirements, and the process of applying. Persons may also call tel. 1-721-542-8886/7 or send an e-mail to entreprisesupport@nrpbsxm.org to speak with an ESP team member directly.

For more information about OBNA, persons may visit www.obna-bank.com.

For more information about SMIA, persons may visit www.stmaarteninvestmentagency.org.

ESP is a project of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, which is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.

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