Major Multi-Faceted MSME Development Project in the Works
More help is coming for the Caribbean’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
It will be delivered through a technical assistance (TA) capacity building programme led by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), with funding support buttressed by business support organisations (BSOs).
The programme, Strengthening The Business Management, Digitisation and Resilience of Micro, Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises in the Region emerged after staff of CDB’s MSME capacity building programme – Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) engaged key BSOs in the Bank’s borrowing member countries between 2021 and early 2022 to ascertain what were the additional technical assistance needs of MSMEs.
“The CDB has already provided millions of dollars in financial, and other kinds of assistance to Caribbean MSMEs. Our research has shown that MSMEs play an integral role in the socio-economic development of the Caribbean region, accounting for a substantial share of the gross domestic product and workforce.
“As a result, in keeping with its mandate and in response to the technical assistance needs of MSMEs, CTCS designed a capacity building programme, which will be implemented in phases, that support both BSOs and MSMEs in a number of areas. These are Financial Literacy and Management, Business Continuity Planning, Digital and Social Media Marketing ,project management, greenhouse farming, customer service, branding, and sales techniques, inclusive of relevant assistance to facilitate MSME increased access to finance,” stated Michel Thomas, CDB’s Operations Officer (CTCS).
The objective of the first phase is to “provide capacity building support to at least 114 BSO representatives and consultants, as well as 380 MSMEs in Financial Literacy and Management, Digital and Social Media Marketing, Business Continuity Planning, inclusive of TA vouchers to qualified MSMEs for the preparation of financial information to access finance, by December 2024.”
Under the programme, in 2022 CDB approved an initial technical assistance grant of USD250,000 from its Special Development Fund to finance the commencement of the first phase of the capacity building programme (2022-2024).
Counterpart support is expected to be provided by collaborating BSOs and beneficiary MSMEs. CTCS will also seek partnerships with other development institutions to co-finance the proposed interventions.
CDB said the expected impact of the technical assistance programme include “increased competitiveness, resilience, and sustainability of beneficiary male-owned and female-owned MSMEs.”
It will be delivered in collaboration with select BSOs and other development partners - where possible, comprising the development of training and guidance manuals; regional train-the-trainer workshops; national workshops; one-on-one technical assistance; online self-learning courses; and technical assistance vouchers to support loan applications.
With MSMEs being the specific targets of this intervention, the programme is also directed at women-owned and youth-owned enterprises, sectors such as agribusiness, the blue economy, hospitality services, technology-based and green tech businesses, and activities related to the creative industry.
The following minimum criteria must be fulfilled for MSMEs to become beneficiaries of this major programme:
(a) Have no more than 50 employees.
(b) Have been in operation for least two years.
(c) Must be registered or incorporated.
(d) Owned or operated by a male or female youth (aged 18-35).
(e) Have a significant number of women employees if not female-owned or operated.
(f) Operating directly or indirectly in a sector or subsectors relating to agribusiness, the blue economy, hospitality services, technology-based and green tech businesses, and activities related to the creative industry.
(g) Have participated in at least the Financial Literacy and Management technical assistance component to receive TA vouchers for the preparation of financial information to support loan applications.
Thomas outlined the project is consistent with CDB’s efforts “to complement support being provided by governments and other development institutions in the region to assist MSMEs in addressing some of the challenges affecting their operations, particularly due to COVID-19.”