Pres announce govt plans to launch USD 6.5 mil loan facility for women entrepreneurs

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu announced plans to introduce USD 6.5 million loan facility for women entrepreneurs while speaking at the High-level Closing Ceremony of the SIDS Global Business Network (GBN) -- Photo/ President's Office

President Dr. Mohamed Muizzu has announced that the government intends to launch a USD 6.5 million loan facility for women entrepreneurs.

"My government intends to launch a 6.5 million dollar loan facility for women entrepreneurs, with 25% of this fund allocated for women with disabilities," the president announced.

"We believe that investing in women's economic empowerment will ultimately lead to our sustainable development."

He made the remarks while speaking at the high-level Closing Ceremony of the SIDS Global Business Network (GBN) Forum 2024, held at Antigua and Barbuda.

In his remarks, President Muizzu made three calls for action, of which President firstly emphasized the need to promote investments in micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and young entrepreneurs.

"In today's rapidly evolving and unpredictable global environment, the private sector in SIDS is in need of support more than ever. It is the responsibility of Governments to ensure ease of doing business. Facilitate their capacity building. And open new avenues for financing," he said.

He further stressed the importance of facilitating easier cross-border trade and protecting the intellectual property rights of MSMEs while ensuring a regulatory environment for them.

"We must commit to ensuring a regulatory environment that encourages investment, fosters innovation and entrepreneurship, and promotes sustainable development," he added.

Dr. Muizzu also articulated the importance on prioritizing inclusivity and empowering local communities.

"Local enterprises are the bedrock of our small societies. They cater to the needs of societies in ways governments simply cannot. Therefore, empowering businesses is empowering our ability to govern. By prioritizing inclusivity and empowering our local communities, we boost connectivity between businesses and governments," President Muizzu said.

President Muizzu noted that this connection can leverage strengths of both sectors in achieving common goals - ranging from infrastructure development to disaster risk reduction, which are important for Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

In his remarks, President Muizzu urged providing platforms to forge partnership and share experiences. He noted that the biggest challenge SIDS faces is the limited or restricted access to affordable financing for development.

"Combined with this, our small markets, limited creditworthiness, and vulnerability to debt distress, hinder our abilities to invest."

The Maldives head of state encouraged the dialogue between businesses and government agencies on creating platforms for engagement to enhance knowledge sharing, partnership development and increment in partnerships as well.

"Finance should not be a barrier but a bridge to prosperity for all that," Dr. Muizzu noted.

"I therefore call upon the banks, multilateral institutions, and other financial entities, to open their doors with responsibility and with foresight."

Dr. Muizzu added that prioritizing these actions can make finance more accessible, affordable, and tailored to the needs of the private sector.

President Muizzu further said that the Antigua and Barbuda Agenda for SIDS can only be achieved, when governments of SIDS partner with private sector.

The SIDS Global Business Network was organized by the Office of the High Representative for the Least Developed Countries, Landlocked Developing Countries, and SIDS.