Over 170 persons in Region Two receive small business grants

More than 170 small business owners in Region Two on Wednesday received grants valuing up to $500,000 from the Small Business Bureau (SBB) to start or expand their entrepreneurial ventures.

Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond spearheaded the distribution exercise in the compound of the Anna Regina Town Council.

Minister Walrond addresses the gathering during the grant distribution ceremony

The Department of Public Information (DPI) spoke to several of the beneficiaries who were elated to have received financial support from the government.

A poultry farmer from Capoey, Nateisha Austin expressed her appreciation for the grant.

“I’m happy and I appreciate the help because I’m a single parent and I have two kids and I want to say thanks for the help,” she stated.

Minister Walrond hands over a small business grant to a resident of Region Two

Another poultry business owner from Mashabo, Henry Hendricks is also pleased to be among the number of beneficiaries.

“I’m very proud that I received this grant because I was struggling with my little business all the time. I didn’t give up, and I know that this grant that I received, I would be able to buy more chicken and extend my pen,” Hendricks told DPI.

Somawattie Ramnarine

Somawattie Ramnarine, who owns a catering business at Lima said “Receiving this grant today was a wonderful thing and it would benefit me in purchasing more things…like a blender and cake mixer. I would like to thank the government.”

Speaking to the gathering, Minister Walrond noted that the government will continue to prioritise support for small businesses, referencing the $450 million that is allocated to the Small Business Development Fund this year.

“This year we will continue with the process of taking in applications. We will be a little bit more judicious and careful, there will be priority sectors and we will refine the process so that most of the applicants would be able to get the impact which we are looking for,” she stated.

Minister Walrond urged small business owners to get registered to benefit from various government initiatives.

She also highlighted the law being passed in the National Assembly that allows 20 per cent of government contracts to be given to small businesses registered under the SBB.

“That means if you think of a $1.1 trillion budget, and how many of that in infrastructure contracts and other kinds of things, it’s billions of dollars available to you as a small business. If you just register with us and keep your compliance up to date, the law provides that you have to be given access to some government procurement or government contracts. So, you already have a billion dollars pocket of money set aside for you as small business owners,” she stated.

Last week, some 398 small businesses in Region Four received grants and other regions are expected to benefit shortly.

Since taking office the government has distributed more than 4000 small business grants to the tune of some $999 million.