Stabroek Business has learnt that the long-awaited formal launch of the LCDS Micro and Small Enterprise (MSE) and Building Alternative Livelihoods for Vulnerable Groups project, which will be administered by the Small Business Bureau situated within the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, will take place before the end of March.
The formal launch of the project will essentially give life to the Small Business Bureau which came into being with the passage in the National Assembly in 2004 of the Small Business Act.
On Saturday last the Bureau issued a media release in which it stated that it had already secured approval from the Board of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to access the first tranche of US$5 million of a US$10 million allocation to the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF) which covers the first two years (2013-2014) of the project.
Small Business Bureau Chief Executive Officer Derrick Cummings told Stabroek Business that from the outset the project will be focused on meeting a “key deliverable” of providing a minimum of 2,500 jobs.
He said that the first component of the project will be to support small businesses with access to funding from lending institutions through a credit guarantee fund, an interest payment support facility and a low carbon grant scheme which will assist potential beneficiaries with seed capital to start up to start up or expand existing businesses. “We anticipate that the project’s credit guarantee facility will remove what, for years, has been a significant hurdle to small business investment, that is, access to financing,” Cummings told Stabroek Business.
According to Cummings, the project will be working towards the creation of a business incubator, which it hopes to establish during its first phase.
The second component of the project will seek to expand access to training for beneficiaries.
Meanwhile, Cummings said he was satisfied that the team assembled to oversee and monitor the project, which included officials from the Project Management Unit of the Office of the President, the Ministry of Finance, the IDB and the Small Business Bureau is equipped to ensure the success of the project.
While agreement for the disbursement of funds has already been signed with the IDB, the Bureau is still in the process of completing what Cummings described as “pre-disbursement criteria” including the signing of agreements with commercial banks and other institutions with which it will be guaranteeing loans to recipients of funding.
The Fund Manager Gillian Edwards, told Stabroek Business that more than 1,800 potential recipients of support from the project had already “signed on” with the Bureau. She said the project will be seeking both to provide financial and other forms of support for beneficiaries for various categories of enterprises including agriculture, agro-processing and handicraft. The non-financial forms of support will include training and marketing support including overseas product promotion. Cummings said the bureau intends to allocate a significant portion of its budget to training.
And according to Cummings part of the strategic thinking behind the management of the project would be to ensure the implementation of best practices that would seek to ensure the “best possible overall outcomes” for the project. He said the bureau would be looking at examples of other similar types of local initiatives in the process of seeking to develop the best strategies.
Throughout its implementation phase, the project will be mindful of its “critical mission” of maximizing employment opportunities in low carbon-emitting sectors, Cummings added.