Jamaica News: More small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will benefit from assistance this year to boost their export potential under the Caribbean Export Development Agency’s (CEDA’s) Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS).
Proposals are now being accepted for the scheme, which is funded by the European Union (EU) and is specifically designed to provide financial support to established SMEs that are exporting or have a strong potential to export their products and services.
Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Hon. Daryl Vaz, said the Administration welcomes innovative financing schemes like DAGS that assist SMEs to realise their full potential.
He noted that over the years, DAGS has provided Jamaican firms with the largest number of grants among the 15 Forum of Caribbean States (CARIFORUM) countries eligible under the scheme.
Speaking at a DAGS sensitisation workshop at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St. Andrew on Wednesday (May 2), Minister Vaz said through the scheme, several local businesses, mainly in the areas of manufacturing and agro processing, have been given the opportunity to improve their business processes.
He informed that funding is also available for energy-efficiency and renewable-energy initiatives, which is a “big plus” for Jamaica.
“As a country, we are moving towards the implementation of green economy policies through increased investment in renewable-energy projects. Green Jamaican businesses will provide a robust engine for economic growth and job creation, which is a vital strategy for the elimination of poverty and provide a pathway to prosperity for our people and our country,” he said.
Executive Director of CEDA, Pamela Coke Hamilton, said DAGS is one of the agency’s flagship programmes aimed at promoting and supporting private-sector development in the region.
She noted that companies have used the grant to, among other things, update their equipment, meet international food-safety standards, participate in international trade shows, improve their packaging and branding and to protect their intellectual property rights.
In his remarks, Counsellor, Head of Cooperation, European Union Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, The Bahamas and the Cayman Islands, Ricard Divins, said the EU is pleased to continue its partnership with CEDA in the execution of the latest round of DAGS.
He informed that the workshop is intended to improve the quality of the proposals to be submitted in order to enhance the firms’ chances of being awarded a grant contract.
“Emphasis is also being placed on proper document management to ensure a quick reimbursement process. CEDA and its partner business support organisations (BSOs) are also committed to providing as much technical support as possible during the implementation of the grant contract,” he said.
DAGS is a reimbursable grant scheme, which allows recipients to be reimbursed up to a maximum of 70 per cent of the total project value, which is capped at €50,000. The minimum grant amount that can be applied for is €10,000.
Grant funding totalling €2.9 million has been awarded to 162 Jamaican firms under the scheme since 2008.
Source: JIS News