The Economic Development Bank will be setting its sights on promoting self-employment initiatives in 2012, targeting specific sectors with orientation sessions and, perhaps most importantly, funding, agency President Ivonne Otero said.
“The EDB will be very busy in 2012,” she said. “We will be pushing for entrepreneurship and self-management in all sectors, while will continue to promote our new ‘Because you can’ (Porque tú Puedes) loan program, which is geared toward generating new entrepreneurs in sectors that had not been addressed before.”
Among those target groups are: college students, health professionals, artists, exporters and federal contractors, she said.
“We will also be supporting women, given the increase in female entrepreneurship that we’ve seen in recent years,” Otero noted.
For the government official, entrepreneurship and small and mid-sized businesses will be the “driving forces of the new economy. We have to prepare them and walk with them until we achieve the economic health we all want for our island.”
Meanwhile, she also predicted that 2012 will be a “good year” for island entrepreneurs and the agency is taking steps to continue financing projects through low-interest loans. The EDB closed fiscal 2011 with a $259 million loan portfolio, and earlier this year Otero said the goal is to increase it by 8 percent in 2012, to $280 million.
“Although we ended the year with a strengthened EDB and a historic low in delinquencies in our portfolio of 19.98 percent, we must continue developing our entrepreneurial ecosystem and ensuring the future of the new economy,” she said.