(CMR) The Minister of Commerce, Honourable Joseph Hew, announced at today's press conference a number of business initiatives meant to stimulate micro and small businesses during these challenging economic times due to COVID-19. including government-backed loans.
He announced that they have fast-tracked the opening of the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development to offer support to micro and small businesses. The Centre has had to adapt its original plans to respond to the needs at hand. They have been conducting daily virtual and teleconference meetings focusing on business continuity for many business owners who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Relief measures will include the ability to include:
- Low-Interest Loan Programme;
- Technical Assistance Programme;
- Training Programme; and a
- Micro and Small Grant Programme.
Low-Interest Loan Programme
The Low-Interest Loan Programme will provide financial and non-financial support to micro and small businesses affected by COVID-19. The loan scheme will provide initial funding in the amount of Five Million Dollars ($5, 000, 00.00).
It is intended for micro and small businesses that require help to meet their operational cash flow requirements. This loan programme will be administered through the Cayman Islands Development Bank and will benefit businesses that are 100% Caymanian-owned.
The programme will provide each borrower with a fully-backed government guarantee.
The amount available to:
- Micro business – will be up to a maximum of $20,000.00.
- Small business – will be up to maximum of $50,000.00
There will be a six-month period of moratorium during which the bank will not collect principal or interest payments. The loan will be given for a period of five (5) years at 1% interest in the first year, subject to increase thereafter.
The application process for this loan programme will be through the Cayman Islands Centre for Business Development, which falls under the remit of my Ministry.
Of course, applicants must meet specific criteria for assistance.
Technical Assistance Programme
The Technical Assistance Programme will involve the use of paid qualified accountants and other professionals to provide technical guidance and coaching to micro and small businesses to help them navigate this difficult period and keep their financial obligations to financial institutions.
This programme is directed particularly at recovery from COVID-19.
Technical Assistance will initially be provided for one year and the programme of assistance will include, among other things:
- Document preparation to access financing, grants or other stimulus products;
- Preparation of business plans, strategic plans;
- Business Model Design/Innovation;
- Business Forecasting;
- Business Impact Analysis; and
- Human Resource Services
The assistance will take the form of one-on-one consultation and coaching sessions with clients. The total amount of funds that has been allocated to support the Technical Assistance Programme is Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00).
Training and Handholding Programme
Training and coaching will be integral to the programmes being offered in order to help you navigate the new world of business that will emerge post COVID-19.
The training modules will cover areas such as Managing Cash Flow in a Crisis; Harnessing the Entrepreneurial Mindset; Managing Changing Human Resource Needs and Business Model Innovation. People are encouraged especially our micro and small businesses to take advantage of this service which is provided at no cost to them. Participation in at least one of these sessions will be a pre-requisite for accessing the loan.
And outside of the training associated with the loan programme, other training sessions will be available to business owners as their needs are assessed.
The amount approved for the training programmes will be in the amount of Twenty One Thousand Dollars ($21,000.00).
Micro and Small Business Grant Programme
In addition to those initiatives, Cabinet has also approved the amount of Nine Million Dollars ($9,000,000.00) to support the micro and small business grant programme.
The Micro and Small Business Grant Programme targets three thousand vulnerable micro and small businesses and is intended to provide [initial] assistance of $1000.00 monthly to selected business for three months.
The objectives of this programme will be to:
- Provide working capital assistance to micro and small businesses affected by COVID-19 which have enough of a domestic market to render the businesses recoverable; and
- To aid in the re-purposing and transition of businesses that had a large tourist market and have demonstrated the ability to transition to a larger domestic market.
In terms of eligibility criteria for the grant programme, a business must have been operational for at least twelve (12) months prior to March 2020.
Applications for the Micro and Small Business Grant Programme will be done through the Centre for Business Development.