By Caribbean News Global contributor
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent — Eighty entrepreneurs from 55 villages across the length and breadth of St Vincent and the Grenadines, on Tuesday, May 19, 2020, were issued grant funding ranging from EC$2,500.00 – $40,000.00 under the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines PRYME and PRYME-plus programmes, totaling EC$600,000.00.
This is the first consignment of approved applicants since the programme launched in March 2020. The second consignment is expected to be announced in early June. Tuesday’s grant recipients represented diversity in businesses such as customs brokerage, block makers, farmers, popsicle makers, beauticians, amongst others.
Chairperson of the PRYME Committee Anthony Regisford told recipients that the main objective of the PRYME programme is to provide grants to young business persons between the ages of 18 – 40 years, made more urgent in the era of COVID-19, with the introduction of two new elements in the 40-year plus category.
These two elements Regisford said are for small businesses and persons involved in culture and arts. “Micro-businesses are a very important aspect of the economy, and emphasized that big businesses would not be without the existence of small businesses,” he explained.
The PRYME programme was conceived months before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic which has crippled world economies, forcing the socio-economic fabric of small island developing states like St Vincent and the Grenadines. Thus, the need to adopt urgent mitigating measures.
During the 2020 budget presentation, minister of finance Camillo Gonsalves announced the establishment of the PRYME programme initially “to provide support and foster entrepreneurship by allocating approximately $2 million in grants to qualifying small businesses and micro-enterprises, which are owned or managed by persons between the ages of 18 and 40.”
The rationale behind the government’s increase in funding finance minister Gonsalves explained ensued the COVID-19 pandemic that has disproportionately affected small businesses and dampened the prospects for new enterprises and entrepreneurial activity.
“As such the government’s COVID-19 Recovery and Stimulus Package allocated an additional $1 million to PRYME. Further, the government set aside $1.5 million in grants to small businesses run by individuals over the age of 40, as part of the Promoting Your Micro Enterprise (Pryme+) programme.”
With COVID-19 induced forced cancellation of Easterval, Carnival, and the Bequia Regatta, in-keep with the physical distancing requirements, and prohibitions on amplified music – has limited the opportunities traditionally available to cultural and creative artistes.
“Recognising this, the government’s Recovery and Stimulus Package allocated a further EC$350,000.00 to assist cultural and creative artistes in retooling and repositioning their businesses,” finance minister Gonsalves said.