Micro, small enterprises to access affordable loans as MSE project launched – 2,200 jobs to be sustained

Georgetown, GINA, October 14, 2013

 

A project targeting micro and small enterprise development was launched today, offering loans that require interest rates below six percent and a grant as high as $300,000 to assist start-up for expansion of existing businesses.

The project entitled Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) Development and Building Alternative Livelihood for Vulnerable Groups is a collaborative effort of the Government through the Ministry of Tourism Industry and Commerce and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB).

The areas targeted cut across 11 sectors with the majority conforming to priorities under Guyana’s revolutionary Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS). Among them are fruit and vegetable farming, processing, aquaculture, eco tourism, sustainable forestry and wood processing, business processing and outsourcing and bio-ethanol.

The Small Business Bureau (SBB) within the Ministry will be the agency executing the US$10M project. The funding was made possible through the Guyana/Norway forest carbon partnership agreement.

An initial tranche of US$5M will be released from the Guyana Redd Investment Fund (GRIF) during the first two years, and it is expected that an approximate 2,200 jobs will be sustained.

Loans can be accessed at the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI), Republic Bank and the Institute for Private Enterprise Development (IPED) through an interest subsidy and support for a portion of the collateral required.

President Donald Ramotar who attended today’s launch said the initiative is important to both small business enterprise development and aspects of Guyana’s economy where small entrepreneurs have made significant contributions.

As he compared large and small businesses, President Ramotar was of the view that the latter is in a more advantageous position.

“Being small gives you the possibility to be flexible and allows them to take decisions more quickly…  they also have a much smaller overhead cost which allows them to provide goods and services to the customers at large, to big businesses and to government at cheaper costs,” President Ramotar said during his remarks at the Guyana International Conference Centre (GICC).

The Government has long recognised the pivotal role small and medium-sized enterprises play in grassroot economic opportunities, supporting income generating ventures, improving livelihoods, enhancing productivity and stimulating competitiveness.

It is on this basis that Government has added impetus to this sector through several initiatives, including easier access to credit, business advisory and marketing services and systems, and training.

Last year, the SBB commenced the development of a policy framework for small businesses and held several training workshops and seminars to improve the technical skills of small business owners.

With GBTI, Republic Bank and IPED offices firmly established across Guyana, optimism is high that most of the small entrepreneurs will be able to access loans under the newly launched project.

President Ramotar is however, hopeful that the interior regions would benefit the most, given the specific needs within these areas to grow economically and address special needs like poverty alleviation.

“I was in Karasabai a few weeks ago and met a farmer who was producing black pepper in that area. His problem is of course access to markets and infrastructure for him to get it there so I think the training is important.”

Business and technical training provided through established training institutions will be one of the main components of the MSE initiative. The focus areas will include a full range of business and finance management skills and technical training in various fields including aquaculture, cultivation through hydroponics.

The MSE project aims to address some of the main impediments to the development of micro and small enterprise, and the ability of vulnerable groups to build alternative livelihoods in Guyana. They include limited access to finance and limited technical business skills.

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