$100K Business Grants Available To Bahamians

Wednesday 02nd, May 2012 / 09:39 Published by

Entrepreneurs throughout the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, can secure up to $100,000 to develop innovative business ideas.

The Compete Caribbean program falls under the Caribbean Idea Marketplace (CIM), which is a business competition platform that encourages local and diaspora entrepreneurs to forge partnerships and innovative projects that will generate employment and economic opportunities for the region.

Winston Rolle, the CEO of Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC), revealed to Guardian Business that in the past, The Bahamas has not been very good at accessing initiatives like Compete Caribbean.

However, he said this scenario is beginning to change.

“People are now more aware. I think a lot of that has to do with one’s psyche. In the past, people didn’t feel that we were eligible because of our gross domestic product (GDP) in comparison to other countries in the Caribbean, putting us in a different position,” according to Rolle.

“The Bahamas is a member of CARICOM so the GDP really has nothing to do with it. It is about looking for companies that can benefit as a result of the programs or initiatives that they support.

“As time goes on, I think people need to become even more aware of these opportunities and be prepared to embrace it.”

He noted that there are a number of areas that The Bahamas can tap into under this initiative, such as agriculture, information technology and renewable energy.

The $40 million five-year program provides technical assistance grants and investment funding to support productive development policies, business climate reforms, clustering initiatives and small- and-medium-sized enterprise (SME) development activities.

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United Kingdom Department (DFID) are jointly funding the multimillion-dollar Compete Caribbean program.

The CIM program is a partner initiative with the U.S. Secretary of State’s Office of Global Partnership, Digicel, Scotiabank and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) and collaborates with both the public and private sectors to improve competitiveness and economic growth across 15 beneficiary countries within the Caribbean region.

Persons from the Caribbean and the Caribbean diaspora in the USA, Canada and the United Kingdom are invited to apply for the Compete Caribbean program.

Entrepreneurs and companies are invited to submit promising and innovative business ideas that also meet the following eligibility criteria: there must be a partnership between a local and a Caribbean diaspora entrepreneur or business owner, the business to be developed must be legally registered, or intended to be established in any of the 15 eligible CARIFORUM countries; the diaspora partner must be a citizen or legal resident of the U.S., Canada or UK, and demonstrate a relevant connection or experience in the Caribbean and the projects must have export potential, encourage employment, be environmentally sound and gender inclusive.

The program was launched last month and the application deadline is May 31.

It is reportedly the largest multi-donor technical assistance program focused on the Caribbean’s private sector development and the largest IDB executed regional program in the Caribbean.

Scieska Adderley,
The Nassau Guardian

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