A new initiative to overcome a shortage of finance for new business is being investigated by Enterprise St Helena.
Martin George, who works at the new agency, said the mood among the business community was “very, very positive” now work has started on its airport after months of gloom.
He said many people were going to the agency with ideas and requests for help, but at the moment there is little money around to kick-start expansion and new start-ups.
“Finance is obviously a constraint,” he said. “Enterprise St Helena is exploring alternative forms of finance by way of a potential Equity Share Scheme [meaning an investor shares both costs and profits].
“This is still early days: there’s nothing ready as yet, but we hope to achieve this soon.”
Martin – who worked for the St Helena Development Agency in the 1990s – said the new body had been swamped by requests for advice and support.
“I can honestly say I have never seen our business community this active,” he told Saint FM this week, when interviewed alongside Julian Morris, the island’s head of economic development.
“Nine times out of ten, businesses appear to be enjoying the current climate. They do have ideas in mind.
“Some have specified how they could benefit or expand with some assistance from Enterprise St Helena, be it financially or be it in a advisory or guidance capacity.
He warned that bureaucracy was slowing the pace of growth. “There’s still barriers, be it through St Helena Government (SHG) or the way things are done: a little bit of red tape here and there, preventing businesses from moving forward. Time is money – the old saying.”
He said Enterprise St Helena was working with just under 40 island businesses. “Our remit is to reach out to every single business on St Helena.
“We’ve recently completed our new Half Tree Hollow business units. We’ve now got five out of eight units occupied and I’m liaising with two new expressions of interest, so potentially, seven could be occupied before Christmas. At New Ground, all four units are set to be occupied by August, fingers crossed.”
Enterprise St Helena