By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, ST.KITTS (Wednesday 10th November, St.Kitts) – “So if you’re a business operating in St.Kitts and Nevis, you can access up to 30,000 euros in grant funding, and because of the size of the envelope, we are able to give out a minimum, let’s assume everybody applies for 30,000 euros, we would be able to give out a hundred grants…”
So said Manager of Competitiveness and Export Promotion at the Caribbean Export Agency (Caribbean Export) Dr. Damie Sinanan who is currently on mission to the Federation relating to the 2021 Direct Supports Grants programme (DSGP) of a total of 3 million euros-provided through the European Union- aimed at helping businesses in “bouncing forward” from the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic by way of providing upfront access to funds this time around instead of the traditional reimbursement basis.
He was at the time speaking at a press conference held on Wednesday 10th November 2021 at the conference room of the Ministry of International Trade, Industry, Commerce, Consumer Affairs and Labour located at Bladen Commercial Development in St.Kitts.
The continued generous support of the European Union agency is being applauded for once again providing critical assistance for micro, medium and small enterprises (MSMEs) in the Caribbean region.
“This particular iteration of our grant funding focused directly on COVID relief and recovery. 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 lockdowns, due to loss of customers and restrictive travel and so on, and so economies that are heavily dependent on tourism including St.Kitts and Nevis really felt the brunt of the pandemic,” Dr. Sinanan stated.
He added: “The purpose of this grant is to really look at how we can assist businesses in bouncing forward not bouncing back but bouncing forward because we want to build more resilient businesses.”
Businesses in the Federation are asked to make good on this funding opportunity.
“Please do not let this opportunity pass you by. Apply for the grant funding. It can make a world of difference in your business and also make a world of difference to the economic development of St.Kitts and Nevis,” Dr. Sinanan urged.
As understood, under the first grant call, one firm from St.Kitts and Nevis received funding and under the last call, two firms got funding.
“What I would like to see is eight to 10 firms from St.Kitts and Nevis get a grant this time around, and to do that we need quality applications, we need more applications from St.Kitts and Nevis so please apply and I’ll be happy to answer your questions.”
In underscoring the aim of the programme, Dr. Sinanan expressed “Once they (businesses) build resilience, once they are able to reach back to pre-pandemic levels, employ more persons, increase exports, bring more foreign exchange into St.Kitts and Nevis and contribute to the development of St.Kitts and Nevis that is our overall goal with this grant programmme.”
The Caribbean Export official also explained that the traditional grant programme which ran for many years dating back to 2008 was done on a reimbursement basis.
“What that meant was that firms would get the grant funding but they would have to spend the grant funds upfront and then apply for reimbursement from Caribbean Export. Unfortunately, what we realized coming out of the pandemic is that many businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises do not have the cash flow to sort of spend those funds upfront and wait for reimbursement from Caribbean Export….it just was not realistic, and we recognized that very early…”
He then pointed out that in August 2020 which was about five month into the pandemic “we were able to identify grant funds from the European Union shift our mode of delivery whereby firms can now accept the funds upfront. So if you are awarded a grant, we will actually advance your funds so that you can spend… This is what is called our Direct Supports Grants Programme, and we ran our first call in 2020 when we were able to give out about 1 million euros in grant funding…”
He said in the latest call launched in October “we have identified a large envelope of resources. 3 million euros and we are able to give out maximum grants amount in the amounts of 30,000 euros so that way you can see the grants amounts have increased whereas the previous programmes was 15,000 euros; we have doubled the grant amount.”
Areas covered under the grants programme include digitalization, renewable energy, marketing plan, new products and service as well as purchasing of machinery and equipment.