One of the main issues that small businesses encounter within island regions is the financing gap where SMEs are unable to raise enough capital to support their business venture. ‘Financing Gozitan Businesses to Prosper’ was the theme of an information session co-organised by Bank of Valletta and the Malta Development Bank in collaboration with the Gozo Business Chamber.
In his opening address, Christian Vella Masini from the Ministry for Gozo, said that the economy of Gozo has been growing by over 5% per annum per capita over the past two years, predominantly with the attraction of small-scale but high value-added manufacturing and services activities. He continued that the Ministry for Gozo welcomes incentives that provide easier access to finance as these are necessary to further enhance investment and job creation within Gozo, giving life and energy to such businesses.
Joseph Darmanin and Maria Xuereb, Chief Officers from the Malta Development Bank, explained that the MDB performs a promotional role, supporting productive and viable operations where the market is unable to accommodate due to higher credit risks. The bank complements commercial banks in bridging financial gaps in bankable investments. It provides Guarantee Schemes intermediated through commercial banks to enhance SME access to finance and to facilitate more attractive terms for bank lending to SMEs.
Alfred Buhagiar, Executive SME Finance from Bank of Valletta illustrated how these guarantees assist SMEs tap into financing through the BOV Family Business Success and BOV SME Invest loan products. The BOV Family Business Success facilitates the transfer of ownership between family members within a Family Business certified with the Family Business Office, while the BOV SME Invest offers a financial solution to SMEs including start-ups, seeking finance to grow and reach their full potential through reduced collateral requirements and financing costs.
Joseph Borg, President, Gozo Business Chamber concluded the session by highlighting that ‘Businesses in Gozo never operate on a level playing field as those on the mainland, and the Malta Development Bank can be the bridge or link that can help our enterprises prosper. With this in mind, we will be asking the Malta Development Bank to study regional financial packages, which acknowledge the specificities of our Island.’
Gozitan SMEs interested in how they can take advantage of the newly launched financing schemes to grow their business are invited to visit the BOV Branch or Business Centre in Gozo or to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.