The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) has announced the awarding of over $1million USD to firms and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) in Jamaica via their flagship programme the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS) as part of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP) funded by the European Union under the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) on August 8, 2014.
The announcement was made at a press conference hosted by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) who’s Vice President of Export and Market Development emphatically chimed that “an announcement such as this cannot go unnoticed, as it represents a most powerful opportunity for Jamaican exporters to equip and tool themselves to propel themselves into their selected export markets.”
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, The Hon. Anthony Hylton, expressed his appreciation on behalf of the Government of Jamaica for the partnership and support that the European Union and Caribbean Export has extended to Jamaican businesses to become more competitive through the scheme. He noted that “access to finance remains a major challenge for the MSME sector despite the reform efforts that have been carried out. MSMEs, especially creative industries, remain unable to access funding from the financial sector, which often proves a major barrier to their development. It remains the case that it is much easier to obtain a loan for consumptive items than for productive activity.”
The firms in Jamaica that have been awarded grants during this call for proposals largely represent the manufacturing and agro-processing sectors accounting for 40% and 36% respectively. “The distributions of funds to these key sectors is a clear indication that the Jamaican manufacturing and agro-processing sectors remain buoyant with a multitude of products on high demand from the international market. It is imperative however, that all sectors continue to take advantage of funding facilities that are made available whether from us or other organisations,” commented Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency.
Out of 136 firms and BSOs that have been awarded grants on this occasion impressively thirty-three of them have been awarded to firms in Jamaica. This has brought the total number of firms in Jamaica supported through the scheme since 2011 to date up to 278 and has a total value of some €5.7 million or $7.6 million USD. The full list of grant awardees can be found on the Agency’s website.
The objective of the Scheme is to provide financial support to firms looking to increase their export capacity, either to new or existing markets. In particular, to capitalise on the opportunities presented by the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) and the CARICOM Single Market Economy (CSME).
Whilst from time to time firms argue that they have been unable to utilise the EPA, Mr Orùs-Bàguena, Chargé d’Affaires, Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica stressed that, “It is for you to find ways to make the EPA beneficial. The mere fact that Caribbean companies can benefit from this Direct Assistance Grant Scheme is proof that funding is available for entities that need assistance in various aspects of trade transition.”
In addition, “the EU remains committed to continue supporting the Private Sector through the CARIFORUM Secretariat, Caribbean Export and other regional agencies. I would like to acknowledge the increase of the current level of resources for the Caribbean, totalling €350 million for the Regional Programme for the next programming period under the 11th EDF (as compared to 165 million euro under 10th EDF).”
The funding provided to beneficiaries is often utilised to modernize equipment, upgrade facilities to meet international food and quality standards, enhance products and packaging, implement alternative energy systems, market and promote products and services, train staff, and develop collateral materials.
To date, Caribbean Export has awarded 475 SMEs and BSOs across the region via direct assistance grants totalling €8,372,277.82. These figures represent the Call for Proposals (CFPs) during the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) Caribbean Trade and Private Sector Development Programme (CTPSDP: 2008-2010), and the 10th EDF Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP: 2011-2014).
The Agency has awarded a total of €2,992,287 or $4.02 million USD to firms and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) across the region during this Call for Proposals for both the Accelerated and Regular Procedures grant facilities which was published on January 17, 2014 with a deadline for submission of application on March 7, 2014. For the regular procedures, the maximum funding available for a project is €30,000, while the accelerated procedures limit is €5,000.
The DAGS is a reimbursement grant funding facility specifically designed to provide financial assistance to legally registered small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), individuals, and business support organisations (BSOs) with the potential to export their products and services.