About the Covid-19 Business Continuity & Sustainability Funding Program
This streamlined funding programme totals $24M consisting of $12M in aid from the Bermuda Government and $12M within BEDC’s existing guarantee capacity. This Business Sustainability & Continuity Funding Programme is one of BEDC’s key business financing tools created in response to the significant impact of Covid-19 on Bermuda’s local small and medium-sized businesses. The Bermuda Government, BEDC’s Board of Directors, and BEDC recognize the economic impact Covid-19 has had with local businesses, and is response, has developed this additional funding programme.
The funding programme is designed to assist as many viable local businesses as possible to tread water and stay afloat, while our Island perseveres through the State of Emergency; Shelter in Place; Social Distancing; Public Health Restrictions; Mandatory Closures; Quarantines; and Stay at Home requirements necessary to contain the spread of Covid-19 throughout the Island.
This relief funding programme consists of a portfolio of financing products for businesses to take advantage of such as:
- BEDC direct micro loans inclusive of BEDC direct relief micro grants;
- BEDC guarantees for overdrafts from Banks; and
- BEDC guarantees for loans from external entities (such as Banks; Credit Unions; Private Companies; and Individuals).
In order to best leverage the total funding provided and assist as many viable businesses as possible, the funding programme is designed for businesses to be utilize a combination of financial products as oppose to just one. It also envisions in some cases, a combination of BEDC financial products, Bank financial products, and financial products from other external partner entities who meet BEDC’s AML/KYC when those partnerships are finalized and ready to be onboarded.
Originally, Phase 1 of this funding programme was in place for 9 months from April to December 2020 or until the support funds are extinguished, whichever came first.Given the ongoing impacts of Covid-19 and the continued need to assist businesses, Phase 2 of this funding programme has now been extended from January 1st, 2021 until March 31st, 2022 or until the support funds are extinguished, whichever comes first.
Funds have been allocated to provide support to general business owners; existing clients who have BEDC products, and new clients seeking financial support. Approved applications will be provided based on genuine need related to Covid-19 impact on businesses. The funding is to provide support to businesses to assist them with covering immediate necessary business expenses like payroll, rent and other mandatory costs associated with operating that have been impacted as a result of Covid-19.
After conducting a jurisdictional review of what 17 other countries, regions, and cities were providing to assist small and medium-sized businesses impacted by Covid-19, the review indicated that the vast majority of the jurisdictions were providing loans to businesses and where grants were provided they were very small grants, some for specific industries, and were combined with loans to provide the best relied to businesses.
After digesting the programmes from other jurisdictions, analysing survey data collected from business between March 20th and April 16th, 2020, assessing the near 100 applications for financial support received thus far to BEDC up until April 16th, 2020, and running scenarios on how to divvy up the $12M the Government has provided in financial aid, BEDC determined that the $12M would have the greatest impact through providing a total package of direct funding from BEDC to businesses made up of 50% in loan funds and 50% in grant funds per successful business.
BEDC determined that solely providing direct grants would not be the best use of the funds, but if grants were allocated as part of the overall loan financing package, small businesses would have some relief for payables or arrears accrued as a result of Covid-19. For all intents and purposes, it could be looked as a relief from the Government in exchange for reliefs of taxes.
BEDC also determined that the total amount of funding would be determined based on the businesses annual revenue or number of employees in order to segment requests between small businesses and medium-sized businesses and that medium-sized businesses would not be eligible for the grant relief as they would be in a better position to take advantage of BEDC’s other Covid-19 financing support with external entities such as the Banks through guaranteeing bank loans and overdrafts.
As such, funding thresholds are divided into 5 bands of financing with the first 4 allocated to small businesses as defined in BEDC’s legislation and the last band allocated to medium-sized businesses as defined in BEDC’s legislation. Funding is distributed in tranches based on an agreed-upon schedule between BEDC and the business with a minimum 6-week and maximum 3-month period. The disbursement of the last tranche tied to ensuring the business meets its conditions with regards to retaining and/or re-employing a percentage of its Bermudian staff. See funding matrix below for first-time applicants:
BEDC’s existing micro-loan product was amended and streamlined to provide this Business Sustainability & Continuity Funding Programme to assist businesses with covering necessary business expenses like payroll, rent, and other mandatory costs associated with operating that have been impacted as a result of Covid-19. Your assigned BEDC Officer can provide invaluable free assistance as you develop the plan for your business’ needs and help you to achieve your business financing goals as quickly as possible.
The details of the combined loan and relief grant financing programme are as follows:
Interest Only Repyaments
Application Fees & Interest Rates
Interest rates for the programme have been reduced significantly by 1.5% from BEDC’s existing micro-loans in order to provide further relief for businesses impacted by Covid-19 and are currently the lowest financing interest rates on island. Likewise, BEDC has reduced all application fees for its products by 50% as a result of Covid-19. Businesses applying for this funding package will pay the following fees once the application is approved and if the application fee is difficult to pay, it can also be added to the funding package for repayment with the financing.
Small and Medium-sized Businesses:
Economic Empowerment Zone Businesses and Island Vendors:
It is realized that the impacts of Covid-19 have lasted longer than anticipated or desired. As such, businesses who have been helped previously in phase 1 by the above product have the ability to re-apply for additional funding under this programme as long as the request is for Covid-19 impacts on the business as defined above.
Given there are limited funds, priority of funding will be given to first-time applicants to ensure as many businesses are assisted as possible. Businesses re-applying will be required to submit an updated application form as well as updated information about their business.
Businesses will be limited to re-applying once over the life of the programme. This means the first application and one re-application.
The maximum amount of additional funds available for businesses re-applying will be 75% of the maximum funding allowed in phase 1. The maximum grant portion available for those requesting additional funds will be 25% of the total funding for small businesses and 15% of total funding for medium businesses. Disbursement of funding will be in 2 tranches with the second disbursement tied to meeting the conditions of the use of the first tranche.
The Business Sustainability & Continuity Funding Programme is available to all small and medium-sized businesses, island wide; including vendors and those businesses located in a designated Economic Empowerment Zone.
Under BEDC’s legislation, a “Small business” is defined as Bermudian-owned and owner-operated business enterprise with:
- Gross annual sales revenues of less than $1,000,000; or
- An annual payroll of less than $500,000
Likewise, a “Medium sized business” is Bermudian- owned and owner-operated business enterprise with at least 3 of the following attributes –
- Gross annual revenues of between $1 million and $5 million
- Net Assets of less than $2.5 million
- An annual payroll between $500,000 and $2.5 million
- Between a minimum of 11 and a maximum of 50 employees; and
- Been in operation for a minimum of 10 years
Although available to all businesses who meet the criteria, BEDC desires to support as many of Bermuda’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as possible. As such, we reserve the right to prioritize applications based on our assessment of need.
As with any financing programme businesses will have meet certain criteria to qualify and will have conditions attached to any approved funding. BEDC recognizes the challenges businesses are facing currently and the stress a business owner can be under. As such, our goal is to deliver a financing programme that is clear, simple, efficient, and attainable as possible. Below lays out the criteria and conditions of the programme.
- Applicable to existing businesses only established prior to the emergence of Covid-19 on the island in March 2020.
- Businesses must demonstrate a significant decline in revenue attributable to Covid-19 for at least a 4-month period in 2020 compared with the same period during 2019.
- Businesses must submit copies of the last 2 payroll tax filings to confirm payroll and size of business.
- Businesses must demonstrate that they are compliant and up to date with payroll tax and social insurance. If in arrears they must have an agreed upon payment plan that they are keeping up to date with.
- Businesses must provide evidence of trying to negotiate for overhead reductions, deferrals, and delays where possible.
- Businesses must provide evidence of applying for the unemployment benefit (and approval if received) for their employees and/or themselves if self-employed to reduce the amount of funding needed for payroll purposes through this programme. Approval under this programme will not result in double-dipping for the same amount of funds. This programme will supplement any shortfall in payroll by the unemployment benefit.
- Businesses must provide bank statements, previous business financials, and a cash flow projection – further details of what is required when applying can be found in the application checklist.
- Businesses must sufficiently demonstrate what their plan is to survive during Covid-19 and their recovery plan post Covid-19.
Businesses re-applying must submit updated documents of what is required for an application as outline in the application checklist only if details of previously submitted information/documents have changed.
- For small businesses the business must retain or re-employ at least 1/4 of existing Bermudian staff during/post Covid-19. Failure to meet this condition without a reasonable explanation may result in all or part of the grant being converted to loan funds.
- For medium sized businesses the business must retain or re-employ at least 1/3 of existing Bermudian staff during/post Covid-19. Failure to meet this condition without a reasonable explanation may result in the interest rate of the loan increasing.
- Disbursement for funding will be distributed in tranches over an agreed amount period
- Evidence of payments made must be received before next disbursements
- Businesses will have to supply copies of bank statements in repayment phase
- Businesses will have to provide business financials on a regular basis in repayment phase
- Businesses will be required to meet with BEDC officers on an agreed upon schedule in repayment phase
- Businesses will sign a funding agreement letter and funding approval contract.
Please ensure that you have reviewed the checklist below and have all the necessary information needed to apply.Complete and compile all information below, BEFORE filling out the application.