Seychelles' Blue Investment Fund issues first large-scale loan to Ocean Basket
In February last year, Ocean Basket processed around 300 tonnes of by-catch per month. (Ocean Basket)
One of Seychelles' by-catch processing companies, Ocean Basket, is now able to increase its domestic fish processing capacity with an over $2.8 million (SCR40.7 million) loan under the Blue Investment Fund scheme, supported by the government of Seychelles and the World Bank.
The loan is the first-of-its-kind, large-scale one to be issued by the Development Bank of Seychelles (DBS) to a Seychellois business to expand the plant and purchase equipment for cleaning, sanitising, and vacuum-packing fish products, as well as preparing them for export to markets in Europe, North America, and West Africa.
Ocean Basket's co-owner Louis Bossy said in a press release from the bank that "I am very happy that I could secure funds to expand my business in my home country because at the end of the day, Ocean Basket is a Seychellois business, and I want it to benefit my country."
Expanding the business will not only allow the company to switch to higher-value fish products but also allow it to take on fish processing and exporting for local fishers.
"We can be the chain link that connects Seychellois fishers to foreign markets. We can take their catch, prepare it, and then use our distribution system to sell it," said Bossy.
The Blue Investment Fund 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, including those with major foreign ownership.
Businesses and entrepreneurs who provide services to sustainable fisheries, including fish processing, laboratories and testing, logistics, marketing, and aquaculture are eligible for the loans.
The 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. This innovative financing instrument raised $15 million with the specific goal of supporting the transition to sustainable fisheries in Seychelles.
DBS' head of credit, Rana Fernandes, said that the Blue Investment Fund is a unique product.
"It offers loans from just $10,000 to $3 million to meet the needs of businesses of any size. It is also affordable – at a 4 percent interest rate, it is the best offer for large loans in Seychelles," said Fernandes.
The World Bank country director for Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, Comoros, and Mozambique, Idah Z. Pswarayi-Riddihough, said, "It is fantastic to see that the proceeds of such a relatively new financial instrument like the Blue Bond are making their way to the community. We are looking forward to more local businesses benefitting from these affordable loans and hope that they will create a ripple effect and boost other economic sectors, too."