Loans

APPLYING FOR A BELFUND LOAN

Applying for a loan with the BELfund is a simple process. In fact it is much simpler than many persons think or believe it is. And although the process outlined below may seem long, we want to allay your fears by saying that the length of the entire process depends entirely upon you, the applicant.

This is because while some individuals have come in for loans which only took about a week or two (2) weeks from the first interview to the disbursement of the loan, we have also seen instances where it took much longer for the simple reason that the applicant either took long to return with all their documents or that they did not bring in all the required documents on time. It must be pointed out that in order to process the loan application in an efficient manner, all the necessary documents must be brought in at the time of the second interview.

The BELfund was established to assist the poor, deprived, unemployed Saint Lucian Micro Entrepreneur in establishing their own micro businesses to assist themselves and their families. In simple terms, the BELfund was established to assist those persons who are unable to secure financial assistance from commercial and other institutions because of their social and/or economic status in society.

In that regard, anyone meeting these requirements can apply for a loan from the BELfund to start a micro enterprise in an attempt to create their own employment and by extension, be in a better position to provide for themselves and their families.

Currently there are two (2) programmes for funding available at the BELfund. Firstly, there is the regular BELfund programme and then there is the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF). It must be pointed out that although the regular BELfund programme caters to clients between the ages of 18 years and over, the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) caters specifically to youth between the ages of 18 – 35 years.

The difference between the two (2) programmes however, is the maximum loan amount, the guarantor requirement and the duration of the training programmes. For the regular BELfund loans, the maximum loan is thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00), while for the YEDF loans the maximum is ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00). The guarantor requirements under the regular BELfund loans is three (3) guarantors, while the guarantor requirements under the YEDF programme is one (1) guarantor. Finally, the training programme under the YEDF is a longer and more stringent type of training programme than that of the regular BELfund programme.

Applying for a Regular BELfund Loan:

All an individual or group needs to commence the process of accessing a loan from the BELfund is a business idea, which they believe in. It would however, be in that individual or group’s best interest if a preliminary market survey is done to determine the suitability and/or viability of the business in the area they wish to establish that business. The conducting of the market survey however, is not a necessity.
Once the individual or group has established their business idea and is satisfied that the business can become a viable entity, they would need to come in to the BELfund’s office in order to discuss that business idea with a Project Development Officer. No appointment is necessary at this stage.
The first interview consist of a thorough discussion of the business idea, at which time a number of questions will be asked by the Project Development Officer in order to determine first the possibility and secondly the viability of the business idea. Questions will include but not limited to; the type of business, the size of the population of the area in which the business is to be located, the intended location of the business within the area, whether there are any other similar businesses already situated in the area, etc. Once all the questions are answered to the satisfaction of the Interviewing Officer, the individual or group will be provided with the necessary documentation that will ensure that the project moves from a basic idea to an actual business. However, this is dependent on the level of enthusiasm of the individual or group seeking to establish that business.
Included in the documentation given by the Project Development Officer will be the following;

  • Loan Requirements Form, which acts as a check list outlining the information required to be produced by the individuals or groups in order to commence the application process.
  • A Guarantor Fact Sheet which explains the role of the Guarantors to the loan
  • A Guarantor Information Form which will be filled out by the Guarantors indicating their personal information.

Once the applicant gathers and completes all the required documentation, an appointment would need to be made with the relevant Officer for the purpose of conducting a second interview.

It must be pointed out that it is necessary to make an appointment at this stage for the simple reason that the second interview is a much longer process than the first, and in order to ensure that the officer is available to attend to the applicant. Failure to make an appointment could result in long waiting periods since the officer may be out on a site visit to a client or conducting a second interview with another applicant, which will take time.

Once an appointment is made, it is advised that the applicant make every attempt to keep that appointment, meaning arriving on time and on the scheduled date. Any changes in the date and time of the appointment should be done in consultation with the interviewing officer.

The second interview is a more thorough discussion of the proposed business and an inspection of the documentation submitted by the applicant. Once all the necessary documentation is made available by the applicant, then the interview will continue to completion. However, it must be pointed out that failure to submit all the required documentation will result in a delay and/or halt in the application process and the need to return to the BELfund’s office at a later date, for yet another interview.

It is at this stage of the process that the required amount of the loan will be ascertained/calculated, based on the open bills provided. The applicant will be further questioned by the Project Development Officer in order to determine the level of intended operations of the business and in the process, commence preparation of the loan application.

Once the second interview is completed and the loan application is prepared, the Project Development Officer will set a date with the applicant for visiting the intended location of the business.

The purpose of the site visit is to determine the suitability of the location of the intended business in terms of the levels of competition, the size and extent of the intended market, the social status and income levels of persons expected to be serviced by the business, the idealness of the location of the business. All this information is used by the Officer to ascertain the feasibility and viability of the business.

Once the site visit is undertaken, the Officer will, upon returning to office, commence the preparation of the loan proposal. Once the loan proposal is complete, the file is considered complete and it is then submitted to the General Manager for evaluation and subsequently, approval.

Loans are approved by the General Manager if the loan amount is ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) or less and by the Board of Directors if the loan amount is above ten thousand dollars ($10,000.00) and up to the maximum of thirty thousand dollars ($30,000.00).

Once the loan application is approved or declined, the applicant is contacted and informed of the status of his or her loan application.

In the event the applications are approved, the qualified applicants must undergo two (2) days of Enterprise Management Training at the BELfund’s Training Facilities situated at. # 31 Leslie Land Road, Castries.

It must be pointed out that training is compulsory and so if the applicant refuses to undergo training, then no funds are disbursed to their account.

Once the client has undergone training, he or she can now proceed to bring their Guarantors to sign the Legal Documents.

These consist of a Promissory Note, Guarantee Agreement and Mortgage Bill of Sale. On signing these documents, the client and their guarantors are agreeing to abide by the terms and conditions of the loan, which in the main includes agreeing to repay their debt to the BELfund over a specified period. These documents are legally binding on the client and their guarantors.

Following the signing, the Legal documents are then taken to the Lawyer for affixing their signature in his presence, after which the documents are registered with the Court Registry.

Once all the legal aspects of the loan are complete, the client can now request disbursement of the funds to commence their business operations at the earliest possible time.

Depending on the nature of the business, disbursement can either be done all at once or over a period of time. For example, where renovations are required to be done, then disbursement will be done over a period of time allowing each phase of the process to be completed before moving to the other phase.