Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade Industry and Commerce, PatrickTodd????

Government has disbursed $625,000 in grant funding to assist 118 Barbadians in realising their dreams of owning their own businesses during the 2009/2010 financial year.

Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade Industry and Commerce, PatrickTodd, made this disclosure yesterday during a media briefing and tour of the Small Business Development Centre, Fontabelle, St. Michael.

Under the National Micro Enterprise Programme, a number of entrepreneurs involved in economic activities such as cosmetology, joinery, food vending, craft and health and wellness, had benefitted from the assistance.

Mr. Todd explained that the application process was scrutined by officials within the Business Development Unit, to verify the authenticity of the enterprises. "Officers from the Unit would interface with these emerging entrepreneurs to ensure that the businesses were legitimate.?? Once this was done, funding was provided not in terms of cash, but in the procurement of equipment to push these firms forward," he said.

He further stated that those small businesses with limited paid-up capital of $1 million with no more than $2 million in annual sales and no more than two employees, could apply for approved small business status as sanctioned by the Cabinet.

By doing this, Mr. Todd added that the entrepreneurs would be entitled to a reduced Corporate Tax rate of 15 per cent, duty free access to plant equipment and raw materials to be used in the business and access to technical assistance; exemption from Withholding Tax on dividends and interest earned in an approved small business.

Meanwhile, Chief Business Development Officer, Francine Blackman, revealed that during the first year of the Programme, 60 of the 69 applicants had been approved.

Regarding applications for small business status, she disclosed that a total of 130 had been received and there were at various stages of completion.

Ms. Blackman surmised: "There were some applicants who withdrew their applications after an examination of the state of their business; there are those who submitted insufficient details; while there are others that are in process … and during this phase there may be delays along the way, but generally we have about 70-odd businesses with approved small business status."

The Minister of State reiterated the need for Barbadians to pursue entrepreneurship as a viable career choice. "Not everyone will be able to get a job in government or in the private sector.?? So, with the assistance of government or other players, they may be able to develop a very prosperous and viable enterprise," Mr. Todd added.??jwilson@barbados.gov.bb

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