Mrs. Janet Bennett-Whint, owner of Spice Isle Plantation located at the Grenada Craft Centre on Kirani James Boulevard, is one of many satisfied Small Business Development Fund [SBDF] customers.
Spice Isle Plantation manufactures products such as candles and soaps all made from local ingredients. , - Mrs. Bennett-Whint, approached the -the SBDF with the aim of introducing an insect repellent to her product line.
During a chat with the SBDF team, Mrs. Bennett-Whint gave a glowing testimonial of her experience with the programme, , “I want to thank the persons involved in helping me get that loan because it came at a time when I was really desperate… I couldn’t go back to the commercial bank I got a loan from before and…seeing that opportunity for the repellent…to make that product…I really want to thank them.”
When asked how she heard about the loan facility that was set up by the Government of Grenada in September 2013 to support small businesses Mrs. Bennett-Whint responded that she heard of the SBDF Programme both from friends and radio advertisements. - - She admitted that the sudden outbreak of the Zika Virus had a role to play in her new plan, “learning about the disease and wanting a way to fight back is what really caused me to develop an aggressive attitude to make and sell the repellent. The loan limit of twenty-fine thousand dollars ($25,000) was not a deterrent as it was just the amount I needed.” Individual loans which have a limit of Twenty-Five Thousand Dollars ($25,000.00) can be used to develop all aspects of a small business including working capital, start up and expansion. “…
Like any other customer, Mrs. Bennett-Whint had to meet the SBDF loan criteria, which include (1) a registered business (2) a cash flow statement and (3) an acceptable form of security for which special terms and conditions may apply. Once approval was granted, Mrs. Bennett-Whint used the loan for the purchase of - raw materials, namely oil, bottles, pumps and caps to manufacture the insect repellent.
Consequently, the profound impact of the SBDF Programme extended well beyond Mrs. Bennett-Whint, as there was a steady demand for this product. Since expansion, Mrs. Bennett-Whint has increased staffing and now her two part-time employees enjoy the benefits of employment. She gives SBDF credit for providing her the opportunity to make a difference “- ‘the SBDF Programme has empowered me to play a major role as a small business owner; I now create employment for others thereby further reducing unemployment in my country.’
- with the SBDF loan Mrs. Bennett-Whint said she was able to engage in limited promotion and marketing activities for her insect repellent. She has increased - product visibility by investing in two signs - strategically placed in the parish of St. George and also launched a social media campaign. Additionally, she redesigned the product label to enhance the aesthetic appeal and to accurately state the health benefits. According to Mrs. Bennett-Whint, her insect repellent has a competitive edge in that it is made from all natural ingredients, which makes it safe; and it has been tested by the Grenada Bureau of Standards. It’s deet free! She is very grateful that the SBDF Programme made Bureau of Standards testing of the product mandatory. Today, Spice Isle Plantation All Natural Insect Repellent in two forms, oil based or water based, can be found on sale at local supermarkets, hotels, pharmacies, boutiques, duty free shops at the airport and other small shops in and around the parish of St. George.
There was yet another pleasant smile on Mrs. Bennet-Whint’s glowing face during the interview as she sat on the chair in her business establishment recalling the assistance the SBDF programme offered outside of the loan. She spoke of the one-month grace period granted prior to commencing repayment of the loan and how this helped her to enhance her other products. She also spoke of the –co-operative manner in which the issue of late payment was addressed by the SBDF Project Officer. She discussed how the SBDF Project Officer called, advised and encouraged her to attend special development workshops held by the Grenada Industrial Development Corporation [GIDC] and special book keeping and business skills developed as a result of attending these sessions. Beaming with pride, Mrs. Bennett- Whint mentioned that Market Access and Rural Enterprise Development Programme [MAREP] looked at her insect repellent product, liked it and approached her concerning assistance. With a deep sense of appreciation, Mrs. Bennet-Whint stated, “Definitely when I’m finished repaying my loan. I intend to go back to the SBDF to get a vehicle.”
Mrs. Bennett-Whint is already planning for five years from now as she envisiones Spice Isle Plantation All Natural Insect Repellent on every business shelf in Grenada, all Caribbean countries, even North America and Europe; and the SBDF programme will play an instrumental role in her achieving this goal. In relation to the SBDF programme, she expounded, “To be honest I don’t think I would have reached this far…right now I have a goal. The loan helps me to build back that drive to be a better business person. I want to work to achieve certain goals and so this loan really helps me.” She strongly recommends the SBDF Programme because “…interest rate is lower…includes you in workshops… wants persons to succeed…tries to accommodate you…” She urges, “…persons should take this opportunity.”
As of March 2018, the SBDF programme has approved Seven Hundred and Forty-Nine applications of the One Thousand and Seventy that were prepared and submitted. Just like Mrs. Janet Bennett-Whint, the SBDF Programme has given Seven Hundred and Forty-Nine customers the opportunity to succeed.