Under the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Future Tourism Project, two cohorts of Dominican business owners received grants totalling $295,758. The first cohort received $257,850, and four individuals– comprising cohort two–were awarded approximately $EC9,500 each.
Minister for Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development, Hon Daren Pinard congratulated the beneficiaries on this opportunity.
“You the small business owners have taken tangible steps to improve yourselves and your businesses. Not only are you benefiting from this effort through the grant funding being received but in creating your business improvement plans, you have come up with new ideas and set up new pathways for you to adjust and adapt in these changing and most trying times.”
He noted that these times have been marked by significant instability and high inflation in large part due to the supply chain shortages resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequently by the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war. These are all factors that are external and largely outside of the country’s control.
He added that the project also provided guidance to the beneficiaries, including a business plan to further assist them.
“ A plan without action is simply a wish and the UNDP future tourism business adaptation program therefore also provided you with structured guidance on how to best implement and execute those adjusted plans,” he said.
“ Business plans are not means to paralyze you but they simply serve as a guide to help you remain focused on your major goals and your priorities and should however be prepared to adjust those plans when they no longer fit in the realities around you.”
The minister further expounded that Dominicans have a first-hand experience of the severe and devastating impacts of natural disasters and the negative external shocks to businesses and to our livelihoods.
Pinard said these external events have had the most crippling impact on our businesses and the local economy, revealing that Dominica lost 226% of its GDP as a result of Hurricane Maria.
“Despite the significant challenges, we are here today and your presence here is a testament to your determination and our resilience, your contribution to job creation poverty alleviation, and the GDP of this country is no small thing.”
“ Small businesses worldwide are one of the largest employment blocks and here in Dominica we have approximately 3000 active small businesses contributing approximately 15,000 jobs and 20% of our GDP.”
Pinard also noted that the small business support unit which was established by the government in 2009 directly assists businesses with the registration process and in getting their products certified.
“When appropriate to do so we also provide grants funding to businesses and beyond this, the small business opportunity also provides hand-holding support. We do not just assist you on the internal backs; we remain committed to your success and we will therefore continue to provide that handholding support that you need.”
He also added that the government has made available import duty waivers through their fiscal incentive concession license to small businesses with gross incomes of $250,000 and less, and encourages those who fall in that bracket to take advantage of all government programs even at supporting and strengthening their small businesses.
Meantime, the minister noted that all beneficiaries at the ceremony were female, and therefore took the opportunity to speak on the Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) program which is headed by the Organization of American States, and his ministry.
“The main objective of the WEE project is to enhance the capacity of women entrepreneurs to take advantage of the digital economy. The project will help female entrepreneurs build sustainable livelihoods through trainings and workshops and it will provide access to online resources and create a digital hub for women who are connecting with the diaspora and markets.”
He revealed that in the coming weeks, the ministry will also be hosting a health and wellness small business trade show which will be held at the stadium forecourt on June 9. The main objective of this trade show is to create networking opportunities and to provide market exposure for small businesses.
The minister advised the beneficiaries to take advantage of all the available services being offered by the entrepreneurship and the small business unit as they work together to build a stronger and more prosperous nation. He further thanked the UNDP for its continued, tangible, and much-needed support provided to the small business sector in Dominica.