No less than 500 Saint Lucian entrepreneurs are eligible to access capital to grow and jump start their business ventures from the newly minted Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) Loan Grant Facility.
The Government of Saint Lucia has secured XCD 10 million from the Caribbean Development Bank’s Special Development Fund tenth Cycle Loan Facility to materialize this new policy.
As much as 70% of the funding for approved applicants can be grants and 30% loans at an rate of interest of three%.
Qualified entrepreneurs and new business owners can access as much as XCD 10,000; eligible businesses lower than two years old can apply for as much as XCD 20,000 and qualified businesses operating for greater than two years can be eligible to receive as much as XCD 25,000.
Conceptualized by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre in 2021, the MSME Loan Grant Facility was officially launched on March 16, 2023.
“I said to my colleagues we now have to do something for small businesses… we articulated a transparent policy position in our 2021-2026 manifesto: to implement a series of measures to revitalize the business sector… ‘to supply partial government guarantees to financial institutions for financing the working capital requirements of affected businesses in the course of the recovery process’. That may be a manifesto quote that is occurring live and direct this morning,” Pierre told attendees on the ceremony.
“We (must) have wealth creators, we are able to’t have people working for people (only). The service industry is fantastic, I’m 100% (supportive) of the service industry but we’d like to have people to create things in order that the people within the service industry can enjoy. We want to have innovators, we’d like entrepreneurs, we’d like small business to develop. We now have examples of small businesses which have developed, there may be JQ Charles (and) A.F. Valmont, these are small businesses that grew,” Pierre added.
Commerce Minister Emma Hippolyte in her speech, identified the consequences the Covid-19 pandemic had on MSMEs and likewise commended Prime Minister Philip J Pierre for making the loan grant facility a reality.
“Across the globe Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19. Many small firms particularly have been adversely affected through reduced sales… The assorted industrial sectors that account for a serious component of GDP took an enormous hit following global travel bans, flight suspensions, shipping delays, lockdowns and social distancing and as such these measures took a heavy toll on MSMEs,” Hippolyte noted.
Based on her, “even during normal times MSMEs especially those in informal sectors operated with tight profit margins and (have) limited money reserves to weather economic shocks… the impact of Covid-19 threatened to overwhelm MSMEs coping capability… it’s on this basis that I find myself extremely completely satisfied as we embark on this historic event.”
Hippolyte also reminded attendees of a promise government made prior to being elected.
Within the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s 2021 election manifesto “a promise was made and I’m going to read that promise… ‘we are going to establish business support throughout the island for small businesses like hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, tailors, seamstresses and the likes to permit them to have the obligatory infrastructural support like washroom facilities, supply tools and machineries for his or her trade. These businesses can even receive support by a Small Business Act established previously by the Saint Lucia Labour Party.’ This promise is being realized today,” Hippolyte said.
“Aside from making this commitment to help small businesses with funding support, our prime minister actively intervened with CDB to cause this facility to grow to be a reality,” she added.