On the 5 July 2019, Bank of Valletta (BOV), and the Malta Development Bank (MDB) in collaboration with the Gozo Business Chamber organised an information session entitled ‘Financing Gozitan business to prosper’ at the ITS in Qala.

Christian Vella Masini delivered an introductory speech on behalf of the Minister for Gozo Hon. Justyne Caruana. He highlighted recent developments in terms of connectivity and economic growth, and highlighted how easier access to finance is necessary to further enhance investment and job creation in Gozo. A proposal being put forward by the Ministry for Gozo for further study and eventual implementation relates to the development of well managed business incubators, and business accelerator programmes in Gozo.

Joseph Darmanin (Chief Business Development Officer) and Maria Xuereb (Chief Credit Business Officer) from the MDB delivered a presentation on MDB guarantee facilities, highlighting the role of MDB in the Maltese economy. An introduction on the Family Business Transfer Facility was also made, highlighting how this new scheme enables family businesses to transfer their business and complements the fiscal incentives to support such transfers, thereby ensuring continuity, stability and future growth.

Alfred Buhagiar, Executive SME Finance from Bank of Valletta while providing an overview of the BOV SME Invest, and the BOV Family Business Success Initiatives, provided further detail and practical examples of how such guarantees ease access to finance for SMEs. The BOV SME Invest is aimed specifically at SMEs, including start-ups, venturing into new business sectors and traditional SMEs wanting to invest in revamping or strengthening their current business model.

Joseph Borg, President of the Gozo Business Chamber, made the concluding speech. He highlighted the difficulties faced by Gozitan SMEs, and how the fact that the access to finance schemes are provided under the De Minimis framework, special incentives for Gozitan based SMEs should be formulated. The maximum amounts provided under the De Minimis framework are mainly absorbed to neutralise transportation costs between the islands leading to an unequal playing field when applying under such schemes.