The Caribbean Export Development Agency has partnered with the European Union to create a solution that will provide small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the CARIFORUM group with cash flow financing as they face constraints stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Both organisations recently launched the Direct Support Grants Programme, a newly developed facility that will support CARIFORUM firms as they respond to the impact of COVID-19. As a result, SMEs can submit proposals or applications for a Direct Support Grant (DSG) of up to €15,000 .
“The Direct Support Grants Programme was developed in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic… to help towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic.”— Anthony Bradshaw, officer in charge at Caribbean Export
Announcing the DSG, Anthony Bradshaw, officer in charge at Caribbean Export, said the organisation stands ready to “address the needs of the CARIFORUM firms during this unprecedented time of uncertainty with a grant facility that enables firms to receive funds on a non-reimbursable basis rather than as in previous programmes, under the Direct Assistance Programme”.
“The Direct Support Grants Programme was developed in response to the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. In collaboration with the European Union we have been able to increase the overall amount of funding made available to CARIFORUM firms, to help towards mitigating the impact of the pandemic,” the Caribbean Export officer continued.
So far, the European Union has made a total of €500,000 available through the 11th EDF European Development Fund, Regional Private Sector Development Programme. And this initiative, according to Charge d’Affairs of the EU Delegation in Barbados Ovidiu Naftanaila, is just another expression of the bloc’s commitment to supporting Caribbean entrepreneurs.
“The European Union is pleased to see that our regional grant funding is going towards assisting Caribbean entrepreneurs getting back on their feet after a harrowing COVID-19 experience, which has severely affected businesses. We also hope that they take this opportunity to capitalise on this initiative as they seek ways of re-engaging with their customers,” he said.
Based on a recent survey of 482 CARIFORUM firms, there is a high demand among SMEs for grant support to enhance their operations. To this end, Caribbean Export pointed out further that it will supplement the current allocation of funds from the EU with additional resources.
The grants, which value between €5,000 and €15,000, will assist SMEs to finance the implementation of projects in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy; marketing and promotions; business recovery; equipment purchase and upgrade; certification; capacity building; business continuity planning; and protection of intellectual property rights.
CARIFORUM firms have until October 2, 2020 to send their applications to Caribbean Export and can access more information about the Direct Support Grants Programme by visiting www.carib-export.com/directsupportgrants.