launch: National Carnival Development Foundation chairman Mahindra Satram-Maharaj, from left, Arts and Multiculturalism Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas, Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries chief executive Nirad Tewarie, National Entrepreneurship Development Company director Lorraine Pouchet and Michael Gordon from the Ministry of Labour at yesterday's launch of the Carnival Loan Facility Initiative at the TTCSI's offices in Woodbrook. —Photo: VERDEL BISHOP

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Loans for masmakers

Up to $.5m under new Govt facility

By Verdel Bishop

Mas practitioners will now be able to access loans up to $500,000 to fund their productions through a Carnival Loan Facility Initiative, which was launched yesterday at the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition of Services Industries (TTCSI) in Woodbrook.

The loan programme is an initiative of the National Entrepreneurship Development Company (Nedco) and the National Carnival Development Foundation (NCDF).

Speaking on behalf of Errol McLeod, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, ministry official Michael Gordon said the initiative will strengthen the creative sector.

Gordon said: "The objective of the launch of this Carnival loan facility by Nedco will lessen the financial obstacles and strengthen the capacity of the micro and small enterprise (MSE) sector and creative industry."

  He added, "Access to finance continues to be challenging for MSEs in this sector as many in the sector are perceived as highly risky and not viable business."

He said that, through the loan programme, existing MSEs throughout the country will be able to access a Carnival loan regardless of business type or location.

Nedco director Lorraine Pouchet said a loan for Carnival 2013 in the sum of $100,000 has already been booked, with three more in the pipeline.

The loan facility is expected to provide up to $50,000 for non-band producers and bands with fewer than 300 members and up to $500,000 for bands between 1,000 and 2,000 members.

Arts and Multicultural Minister Dr Lincoln Douglas said the initiative had his support.

He noted that Carnival continued to be recognised for its intrinsic value to the country and to the world. 

Meanwhile, NCDF chairman Mahindra Satram-Maharaj said those in the sector had never been looked at as entrepreneurs. 

"They were looked upon to focus only on culture as something to give back to society; but it has never been looked upon to generate income and sustainability. This is why you find quite a number of practitioners just pass on; there has been no monetary value for them and most of them die being paupers," Satram-Maharaj said.

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