Belizean entrepreneurs with small and medium sized businesses may soon access grant funding from the Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) to finance up to 70 percent of any expansion which will help them reach export markets.
Small businessmen often don’t have the start-up capital or the assets to use as collateral to access financing; however, they can approach the Development Finance Corporation. The DFC can provide 70 percent financing, once the project or investment has been approved for a CEDA grant.
The key was for Belizean businessmen to understand what projects and investments can qualify for a grant under CEDA’s Direct Assistance Grant Scheme.
Therefore, CEDA grant advisors, Celestine Moe and Kirk Brown, taught the small business owners how to prepare their grant proposal at a workshop hosted by Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE) and CEDA at the Radisson Fort George Hotel and Marina on Wednesday, April 10.
The latest invitation for proposals has not yet been announced so no deadline has yet been set for submitting proposals, but Brown emphasized the importance of submitting the proposal well in advance of the deadline.
This is because CEDA no longer accepts proposals submitted electronically by email. It must be a hard copy sent by express mail or courier service and must reach CEDA offices before the deadline.
All supporting financial documents must also be in order and verifiably genuine. All proposals are evaluated over a 60-day period after the deadline, and successful applicants are informed in writing.
The thrust of CEDA’s grant scheme is to open new markets and increase exports to the Caribbean and other international markets. It also helps Belizean entrepreneurs capitalize on the benefits of the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), the CARICOM Single Market Economy (CSME), free trade agreement between CARICOM and the Dominican Republic and any other bilateral or multilateral arrangements within the region or with African, and Pacific countries or European partners
CEDA’s plan is to foster intra-regional cooperation to enhance productivity and capitalize on economies of scale, and to promote programs which can help underdeveloped areas or disadvantaged sectors in the region such as in rural development and gender issues.
Under CEDA criteria, those who can qualify for a grant include firms legally registered and operating in a CARIFORUM member state; legally registered business support organizations in a CARIFORUM member state, partnering with at least two private sector firms; firms trading and operating for at least two years, with the last two years financial statements/accounts to prove it. This means no start-ups.
Successful firms must be able to finance and sustain their projects fully at the start; they must have 100 percent financing available before their project starts, and they must be exporting or demonstrate a potential to export goods and services.
BELTRAIDE offers more information at their offices at 14 Orchid Garden St., Belmopan, they could also be contacted by email at [email protected], or [email protected] Those interested can also visit BELTRAIDE’s facebook page.