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Thursday, Mar 04, 2021

Minister of Commerce: COVID-19 Support for Small Business

Minister of Commerce: COVID-19 Support for Small Business

The Ministry of Commerce, through the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development, continues with its efforts to support small businesses and entrepreneurs across the Islands.

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.

Update on Relief Measures

Finally, I would like to provide an update of the relief measures that Government instituted to assist micro and small businesses disrupted as a result of the pandemic.

In Phase I of Government’s micro and small business grant programme, one thousand four hundred and thirty two (1,432) businesses benefitted from approximately $4.3 million dollars.

And in Phase II of the programme, three hundred and seventy (370) businesses were approved for amounts ranging from $6,000.00 to $20,000. Successful applicants are currently being processed and are set to benefit from a total funding of $4.5 million dollars.

Additionally, twenty-nine loans have been disbursed under the joint CICBD/Cayman Islands Loan Interest Loan Scheme, with value of over $1 million dollars. Technical assistance was provided to 44 small businesses under this loan scheme.

We anticipate that with the stipends, the business incubator, as well as other relief measures Government has provided to micro and small businesses, they will be in a better position to navigate these unusual times.

Before I close, I just want to thank the team at the Centre for Business Development for all they have accomplished since their opening last year.
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