At least 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 10th Cycle Loan Facility to materialize this new policy.
Up to 70% of the funding for approved applicants will be grants and 30% loans at an interest rate of 3%.
Qualified entrepreneurs and new business owners can access up to XCD 10,000; eligible businesses less than two years old can apply for up to XCD 20,000 and qualified businesses operating for more than two years will be eligible to receive up to 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 have to do something for small businesses… we articulated a clear policy position in our 2021-2026 manifesto: to implement a series of measures to revitalize the business sector… ‘to provide partial government guarantees to financial institutions for financing the working capital requirements of affected businesses during the recovery process’. That is a manifesto quote that is happening live and direct this morning,” Pierre told attendees at the ceremony.
“We (must) have wealth creators, we can’t have people working for people (only). The service industry is fine, I’m 100% (supportive) of the service industry but we need to have people to create things so that the people in the service industry can enjoy. We need to have innovators, we need entrepreneurs, we need small business to develop. We have examples of small businesses that have developed, there is JQ Charles (and) A.F. Valmont, these are small businesses that grew,” Pierre added.
Commerce Minister Emma Hippolyte in her speech, pointed out the effects the Covid-19 pandemic had on MSMEs and also 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 in particular have been adversely affected through reduced sales… The various industrial sectors that account for a major component of GDP took a massive 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.
According to her, “even during normal times MSMEs especially those in informal sectors operated with tight profit margins and (have) limited cash reserves to weather economic shocks… the impact of Covid-19 threatened to overwhelm MSMEs coping capacity… it is on this basis that I find myself extremely happy as we embark on this historic event.”
Hippolyte also reminded attendees of a promise government made prior to being elected.
In the Saint Lucia Labour Party’s 2021 election manifesto “a promise was made and I’m going to read that promise… ‘we will establish business support throughout the island for small businesses like hairdressers, beauticians, barbers, tailors, seamstresses and the likes to allow them to have the necessary infrastructural support like washroom facilities, supply tools and machineries for their trade. These businesses will also receive support by a Small Business Act established previously by the Saint Lucia Labour Party.’ This promise is being realized today,” Hippolyte said.
“Apart from making this commitment to assist small businesses with funding support, our prime minister actively intervened with CDB to cause this facility to become a reality,” she added.