BASSETERRE, St. Kitts-- IN an effort to ensure that Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSME) rebuild more resilient coming off the COVID-19 pandemic, the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) is urging local businesses to apply for grant funding.
This comes as the regional agency has received €3 Million in funding to assist small and medium size businesses in the Cariforum region to be resilient, as they seek to rebound from the shocks posed by the pandemic over the last year and a half.
Successful MSMEs will receive a maximum of €30,000, which is double the previous €15,000 offered.
Dr. Damie Sinanan, Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion, urged all local MSME entities to apply for the grant which is focused primarily on COVID relief.
“We want to focus on building better companies, more resilient companies coming out of this COVID-19 pandemic. We know that the private sector was hit very hard by the pandemic due to the lockdowns, due to the loss of customers and restricted travel, “ Sinanan said.
He acknowledged that businesses like those involved in the tourism sector were hard hit due to limited movements across the region. In order to qualify, applicants must be able to show what projects the funds will be used for and how it will be beneficial.
CEDA is funded primarily through the European Development Fund, and has been financing loans to MSMEs over the last year. Under the last two rounds of calls for entities to apply, two from St. Kitts and Nevis out of hundreds of applications were successful. According to Sinanan, only four applications were received from the Federation.
The regional agency is on a drive to get more applications from St. Kitts and Nevis as the regional entity has changed the way grant fundings are dispersed this time around. Previously all applicants must have spent their own monies on a project and then they would be reimbursed the sum.
“What we realised coming out of the pandemic is that many businesses, specifically small and medium size businesses do not have the cash flow to spend those funds upfront and wait for reimbursement from Caribbean Export. It just was not on the cards and it was not realistic,” Sininan explained.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Jasmine Weekes also called on MSMEs to grab the opportunity as it is an avenue that could be used to build businesses in the Federation.
She reminded that the conversation of access to financing is one that is talked about and heightened during the pandemic, since such is a challenge for many small businesses.
The grant funding is open to all entities in various sectors and initiatives, including digitalization of businesses, renewable energy, developing a marketing plan, developing new products and services, and the purchase of machinery and equipment.
Deadline for application is December 8th, and it will take 45 business days before the successful applicants are notified.
For additional details, interested persons are asked to visit www.carib-export.com or Deidre Brathwaite (246-436-0578) at email firstname.lastname@example.org.