The international business and financial centre of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) has demonstrated its ability to overcome adversity and return to business as usual, after posting robust new company incorporation growth mere months after it was hit by a category five hurricane last September.
According to the Q4 2017 BVI Financial Services Commission’s quarterly statistical bulletin, company incorporations increased by 12% quarter-on-quarter (8,538 vs 7,639) and were up nearly 10% on Q4 2016 (8,538 vs 7,780).
Record category 5 Hurricane Irma struck the BVI on 6 September 2017, causing widespread destruction. It was followed by Hurricane Maria just over a week later. The hurricanes knocked out 80% of homes and businesses and caused losses of £3.6bn to the Islands’ GDP.
In the immediate aftermath of the storms, many businesses activated continuity plans, and a significant level of services and operations resumed either on island or via international networks. BVI FSC was also able to enact its online portal VIRRGIN within three days of Hurricane Irma, allowing the BVI’s company register to continue functioning.
The BVI government also quickly announced that the repair and support of the financial services industry was a priority. This was proved through the House Assembly’s efforts to continue to create innovative business legislation. In early 2018 it passed a new Micro Business Companies Act, which will support SMEs and start-ups. It also passed the Limited Partnership Act which will provide all the typical benefits of limiting liability, as well as a number of unique features marking an evolution in limited partnership law.
Lorna Smith, OBE, Interim Executive Director of BVI Finance said: “We are greatly heartened to see that our international business and finance centre was able to not only survive but thrive in the face of great adversity last year. This was down to the amazing efforts of the FSC and industry on island and around the globe who worked tirelessly to keep our systems online and our customers informed all while surrounded by destruction.
“We lost so much in the wake of unprecedented natural disasters but we did not lose the belief in our abilities to offer world class financial service to our clients. And as a result, we did not lose the faith of our clients and the wider global business community to be able to serve their business needs.
“We still have much work to do to rebuild a better and stronger BVI, but we have shown that regardless of the adversity we face, we are dedicated to continue offering the global business community a unique centre for their international business needs.”