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Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Support Program moves focus to employment support

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Posted: Thursday, July 2, 2020. 10:40 am CST.

By Aaron Humes: Some 70 percent of jobs and income come from micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) and the Government is stepping forward to assist with effect from August 1.

Some $2 million is assigned to micro business grants (1-4 employees); $7 million will be paid out for unemployment relief (wage subsidies) through employers who are aligned with Social Security and another $5 million for working capital for medium enterprises, according to Minister of State for Labour Dr Carla Barnett. Small businesses serve 5 to 20 employees.

Minister responsible for Trade and Industry, Tracey Taegar-Panton, reminded of the Government’s pro-MSME policies focusing on support for businesses.

Today’s recommendations, she said, are taken from direct consultations held in April by the Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE).

Micro business grants run up to $2,500 and are expected to benefit some 100 such businesses. Small businesses can apply for up to $15,000 with interest of 3 percent, and medium enterprises can get up to $25,000.

BELTRAIDE will support training and development of marketing and other key elements of business.

CEO Duane Belisle stated that the program will last three months from August 1 and applications will be taken for 21 days from that date, with a decision to be made in 14 days from date of application.

Applications will be submitted to an evaluation committee and then approved by an approval committee. The National Bank of Belize (NBB) serves as clearing agents.

Promotions will be made of ‘Buy MSME’ campaigns for import substitutions and online marketing platforms.

Grants may be used to support employees’ wages, COVID-19 support, refinancing loans and getting working capital.

Targeted industries include tourism, light manufacturing, transportation and so on according to Dr. Leroy Almendarez.

 

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