RIYADH: The Saudi Fund for Development CEO Sultan Al-Marshad signed a development loan agreement worth $10 million with Isacc Chester Cooper, deputy prime minister and minister of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Investments & Aviation.
The agreement, signed at SFD headquarters in Riyadh, will involve the construction of business incubation centers across three islands in the Bahamas to support the growth of the tourism sector, signifying SFD’s commitment to supporting sustainable economic development in developing countries and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).
Since its operations began in 1975, SFD has implemented more than 700 development projects and programs in 88 countries. The signing on Thursday marks SFD’s first presence in the Bahamas, making the country the 89th to receive funding for a development project from the fund.
The loan will facilitate the creation of dedicated business incubation centers to support the development of new business projects. Specifically, these will accommodate 50 small businesses on Nassau Island, 25 on Exuma Island, and 25 on Grand Bahama Island.
The centers being built will include onsite experiential tours, offsite excursions, retailers, and local food and beverage outlets, helping to nurture entrepreneurship and stimulate economic growth in the Bahamas and wider region.
The project is set to enhance the tourism sector in the Bahamas, create direct and indirect job opportunities, and contribute towards realizing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth) and SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure).
“This agreement marks a significant step in our nation’s journey towards sustainable growth, with the support of Saudi Arabia through the Saudi Fund for Development,” said Cooper. “The upcoming business incubation centers will act as catalysts for our aspiring entrepreneurs and help to accelerate job creation and enhance our tourism sector. This partnership reflects a shared vision of prosperity and development.”
Al-Marshad said: “SFD is committed to promoting sustainable socio-economic development in developing nations and Small Island Developing States, while supporting the journey to achieving the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.”
He added: “This project promises to nurture entrepreneurship in the Bahamas and stimulate economic growth through the provision of new business and job opportunities in the tourism sector. The agreement further solidifies our commitment to achieving a shared, prosperous, and sustainable future for developing countries worldwide.”