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Government program offers PRYME assistance of up to $40,000 to young entrepreneurs

Government program offers PRYME assistance of up to $40,000 to young entrepreneurs
CAMILLO GONSALVES

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APPLICATIONS ARE now being accepted after the fasttracked launch of PRYME, a 2.4-million-dollar Government program offering financial and other assistance to young hopeful entrepreneurs with micro businesses/business ideas.

The minister of finance, Camillo Gonsalves announced the launch of the Promotion of Youth Microenterprises (PRYME), at a press conference at the Cabinet room on Tuesday, March 17. PRYME, first announced during the Budget address, has been fast tracked as one of the stimulus measures in the face of the economic fallout expected in the face of COVID-19 pandemic, Gonsalves indicated.

“Stimulus is not just spending new money, it’s changing your priorities and fast tracking things that you plan to do, but you know will have an economic impact, you do them right away,” he stated.

The initiative is being introduced to fill a gap in the programs already made available to entrepreneurs.

“We thought that the one area where the gap existed was on the very small end of the business scale. There’re a lot of young people out there who doing a little hustling or have a little idea that is not a massively expensive idea to implement but it is still beyond their means,” Gonsalves explained on Tuesday.

“…You may have a young man or young woman who may want to start a barber shop or a beauty salon but they don’t have the money to buy the clippers or the acrylic for the nails or the hairdryer or what have you. You may have somebody who wants to start a little landscaping business but they can’t buy two swipers,” he stated, giving examples.

These entrepreneurs need an entity to approach for capital to start or grow their businesses, the Minister continued, and PRYME is intended to be this entity.

It is an ongoing program without a set deadline, but the Minister indicated that the first round of beneficiaries is set to be announced by the end of April.

Application forms, currently available online, or at the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, InvestSVG, the Centre for Enterprise Development, the ministry of economic planning, and the Office of the Prime Minister, are apparently simple to fill out.

The applications will be assessed by a steering committee, chaired by the Executive Director of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, Anthony Regisford.

The Committee will also include representation from InvestSVG, the Centre for Enterprise Development (CED), the Ministry of Labour, the SVG Community College, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines National Centre of Technological Innovation Inc (NCTI).

Regisford, who was also present at the launch along with other members of the committee, indicated that he has faith in the skill of his fellow members on the committee.

Further, he assured, “The Committee is going to be committed to speeding the process up, we’re not going to be deliberating for weeks on end as to who gets an approval on their applications.”

He noted that on the lower end of the scale of cash grants, which ranges between $2500 and $40,000, there will be less scrutiny, while on the higher end, the criteria will become “a little more complex”.

“The Committee is charged with sifting through the applicants, with finding those diamonds, those people who in the Committee’s view are quality entrepreneurs above beyond a specific business idea that they bring,” the minister of finance informed.

The committee may also interview applicants.

Of those young entrepreneurs/ applications that are evaluated, Cabinet will receive recommendations from the committee before cash grants are given.

“We’re trying to capture that class of young men or women who have ideas, who have initiative, who have drive but who don’t have money, and we’re trying to assist on the micro end those entrepreneurs because we believe we have established an ecosystem higher up the chain that would be of assistance to younger people,” Gonsalves commented.

Additionally, another component to be introduced would be the possibility of entrepreneurs who need a location being able to receive one.

This opportunity is set to come in the form of the community enterprise zones.

PRYME is going to pilot buildings in different locations of St Vincent and the Grenadines which “can exist to deliver services in small communities and provide a space for young people to offer carefully selected businesses and services,” the minister stated.

The first community enterprise zone will be built in Glen. As part of a grant offered by PRYME, Gonsalves noted that “the right type of business, delivering the right type of service” may be offered a space there.

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