A Tobago Business Expo will be hosted in May by the THA Business Development Unit (BDU), said Secretary of Community Development, Enterprise Development and Labour Marslyn Melville-Jack.
At Wednesday’s virtual post-Executive Council media briefing, Melville-Jack said although the details are still being worked on, the expo will be hosted in an attempt to stimulate the micro business sector on the island through a collaborative effort with the Community Development Department and local entrepreneurs.
She said, in the interim the BDU continues to deliver the necessary support to the small and medium-sized enterprises sector through the Enterprise Assistance Grant and Loan programme, noting that the onset of covid19 served as a catalyst to widen the scope of assistance provided to the business sector, since the sector was severely affected by the pandemic.
“From March to December 2020, the BDU distributed over $10 million in loans and grants as a stimulus package to entrepreneurs who were reeling under the devastating impact of the pandemic,” she said adding the more the 300 grants and 15 loans were primarily afforded to businesses in the agriculture and agro-processing sector, followed closely by the ancillary services within the tourism industry.
She said that to date 62 per cent of the applications received have been processed and cheques distributed. The other 38 per cent are still in various stages of processing for a multiplicity of reasons.
“As the demand for grant funding increased and the availability of resources dwindled, the waiting time lengthened.
“Let me take the opportunity to thank all the applicants for your patience. I too am very dissatisfied with the lag in response time, but I want to assure you that within the next two months we would ensure that the backlog of applications are completed for payment."
As such, she said that the first batch of cheques was scheduled for distribution on Friday and similar distributions will take place every Friday over the next two months. She noted there would be a temporary suspension on new applications with effect from March 1, as the division deals with the backlog.