Our main priorities, at this time, are to:
• Provide a wide range of support to micro and small business owners and entrepreneurs (these include access to finance, technical assistance as well as advice and training; and
• Identify and provide special support to businesses that have the kind of sustainability systems in place that render them able to aid in economy recovery;
With this in mind, I am pleased to announce that Cabinet recently approved a one-time payment of three thousand dollars ($3,000.00) as a stipend to business owners who applied to Phase II of Government’s micro and small business grant programme and were not successful.
This is a single payment that will be made per business owner irrespective of the number of businesses owned, and/or number of applications submitted in previous phases of the programme.
I must emphasise that business owners who received a grant under Phase II of the programme will not be eligible to benefit from this stipend.
Some key points to be made about payment of the stipend:
• Beneficiaries will not be asked to submit any new application or supporting documents;
• Documents submitted in support of previous applications will be used as proof of operations for these applicants; and therefore
• No action would be required on the part of the beneficiaries. Deposits of $3,000.00 be made to the account numbers of business owners by electronic funds transfer.
It is anticipated that the number of business owners who will qualify to receive this disbursement will be over four hundred and fifty. The total fund commitment from Government is just over $1.3 million dollars.
In addition to that support, my Ministry is set to officially open the business incubator at the Centre for Business Development on March 24.
The business incubator will house start-ups and business owners who do not currently have a work space from which to operate. We expect that this will benefit up to twenty (20) micro and small business owners and entrepreneurs, at any one time.
The residential space will be made free of charge for up to two years. In addition to the space, they will have access to:
• Laptops and other office equipment;
• Business advisors right there at the location; and a
• Special advisory panel – consisting of legal, accounting and other business professionals.
A major benefit for the businesses that will be operating from the incubator - is that advisors at the Centre as well as other business mentors will provide strategic business development guidance to support them innovate and grow.