An estimated USD3.7 million has been committed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to support Saint Lucia’s Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
Under a new initiative, approved by the Bank’s Board of Directors, a CDB loan will, enable the Government of Saint Lucia (GOSL), to provide grant and loan financing to suitably qualified firms in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) territory. The GOSL will inject USD .4 million in counterpart funding. Additionally, training and technical assistance will be offered to MSMEs to enhance operational capacity. It is anticipated that this programme, will create more resilient MSMEs, better positioned for growth and sustainability, and even more capable of contributing to the country’s overall economic development.
Mr. Daniel Best, Director Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank stated that “The project will have a two-fold positive impact, permitting the Government of Saint Lucia to retain the flexibility needed to support growth recovery through funding the critical MSME sector at a time of continuing urgent need, while improving debt dynamics and supporting the Government’s commitments to long-term debt sustainability by contributing to a reduction in the overall average cost of debt.”
Under the project, which will be administered by the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) and the Saint Lucia Development Bank (SLDB), entrepreneurs will be trained in business management and sector specific technical-vocational areas. Also, CDB’s Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) will, through its regional train the trainer programme, offer modules on business incorporation, continuity planning and disaster preparedness; bookkeeping and financial management; e-commerce and marketing; export development; environmental sustainability and other areas based on industry need and identified gaps.
The new facility will be available to qualified Saint Lucian entrepreneurs with sustainable businesses who are unable to meet collateral or other lending requirements of traditional financial institutions. This intervention will shore up the private sector as Saint Lucia’s MSMEs account for a large proportion of all private enterprises, employment, and contributions to Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Anecdotal information suggests that MSMEs contribute close to 40% of GDP and provide employment for close to 40,000 persons or 49% of the labour force. There are over 6000 registered MSMEs of which over 2000 are owned by persons aged 18-35 years. MSME’s comprise the backbone of the Saint Lucian economy and the sector employs a large segment of the most vulnerable members of the workforce.