EC$10M in grant funding is now available through the COVID-19 Economic Support Secretariat (CESS), for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) that have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, new business start-ups, SEED beneficiaries, and others within the productive sectors.
In announcing the measure, which is geared to cushion the negative impacts of the pandemic, and grow the economy, Prime Minister and Finance Minister Dickon Mitchell told Tuesday’s post-Cabinet media briefing in St. George’s, that funds are available as of this month for successful applicants under Phase III of the economic stimulus package, which was launched last week Thursday and will run up to the end of December.
PM Mitchell explained that EC$3.1M of the monies will be used to extend the SEED programme, another $2.2M to provide temporary unemployment benefits, and a maximum amount of $30, 000.00 will be provided as support for MSMEs.
He told reporters that the support for MSMEs targets “beneficiaries, who would have been impacted negatively by COVID, particularly in the productive sectors, including farmers, agro-processors, fishermen (and) women, persons in the cottage industry, persons who already have a small business and may need some capital injection as well as persons who would have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, and wish to start their small micro or medium-sized business eventually.”
As an added incentive, the Grenadian leader gave assurance that the Ministry of Finance will “ensure that customs duties, particularly the Common External Tariff, and the VAT (Value Added Tax) that will be charged on any equipment that persons may need as part of this $30, 000.00 grant are waived.”
Grant funding to MSMEs will be funneled by the Central government via the Caribbean Development Bank, which had approved US$8.95M to support Grenada’s stimulus package, which was undertaken by the former administration as a means to cushion the effects of the pandemic.
Noting that this is grant support, PM Mitchell explained that “beneficiaries are not required to repay the monies to the government,” and placed on record the government’s expectation that the funds would be used for the intended purpose, which is “to assist persons in starting their business as the case may be or in supporting the businesses that already exist.”
Deputy Project Coordinator at the COVID-19 Economic Support Secretariat (CESS) Chinnel Andrews, who disclosed that the grant funding will be given mainly in the form of capital injections, said that measures are in place to ensure that the funds are used for the purpose requested.
“So, for instance, if you’re a fisherman, and you need to purchase an engine, we will make the cheque directly to the supplier for that engine or whatever equipment you desire to purchase for your business. Our team of officers will also be doing an appraisal of your business … we come out to the field to look at your actual business, make sure it’s a physical business (and) if it’s a new startup we will examine your project,” she said.
“…We will also do follow ups with you, provide training et cetera to make sure that the funds are used for the purpose requested as well as to make sure that when you start your business it becomes sustainable,” she added.
As part of the third phase of the stimulus package, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Finance, Mike Sylvester said, there is also “close to $9 million” in loans available, under the small development fund loan disbursement programme for MSMEs at the Grenada Development Bank (GDB).