The Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) is urging Seychellois who are interested in sustainable fisheries activities to come forward to access funding under the Blue Investment Fund, said a top DBS official.
The Blue Investment Fund (BIF) was launched in 2019 to support the expansion of sustainable fisheries in Seychelles. It is open to all Seychellois citizens as well as locally registered civil society organisations and businesses that are at least 51 percent Seychellois-owned.
“Applicants can apply for a loan from $10,000 up to $3 million and cover up to 90 percent of the total project amount. The BIF loan has a repayment term of up to 15 years at a 4 percent interest rate. This is the most affordable large-scale loan in Seychelles and we are looking forward to working with local businesses and finance their growth,” said Rana Fernandes, Head of Credit at DBS.
Available since 2019, to date, only one application for $250,000 has been approved while several others are under review.
“We are aware of the past delays, but we are now on track to speed up the application and review process and, hopefully, avoid processing hurdles. At the DBS, we are ready to work with interested applicants and find the best way forward for them to access the BIF funding,” she added.
Fernandes told SNA that the fund will remain available until it has been fully disbursed.
“The processing is done on a first come first serve basis. To ensure smooth processing, it is important that applicants meet the eligibility criteria and submit a complete set of documents following the checklist,” she added.
The BIF loan can cover five types of activities and these include scientific services, logistical services, processing and market access.
In 2021, DBS added Aquaculture to the list of eligible activities so that entrepreneurs seeking to tap into the new market segment can also secure a loan under the BIF scheme.
The Blue Investment Fund is capitalised from the proceeds of the world’s first sovereign Blue Bond that Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean launched in October 2018.
The Blue Bond, valued at $15 million over 10 years with guarantees from the World Bank and the Global Environment Facility, was launched to support Seychelles’ transition to sustainable fisheries.
Out of the sum, $3 million went to the Seychelles Conservation and Climate Adaptation Trust to be distributed as grants to community-led projects. The remaining $12 million formed the BIF, managed by the DBS.
With an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of 1.4 million square kilometres, Seychelles is pushing for the development of the Blue Economy as a foundation for economic diversification and sustainable growth.
Fisheries is the second top contributor to the island nation’s economy.