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Growth & Jobs | HEART Trust/NTA Business Grant Programme powering job growth

Published:Tuesday | October 8, 2019 | 12:00 AMCecelia Campbell-Livingston/Gleaner Writer

Several small business owners will be able to boost their growth through a $1-million grant offered by the HEART Trust/NTA under its Business Grant Programme.

According to Marlon Johnson, acting director, Business Development Workforce Solutions Department, the initiative has been around for a few years now with its mandate to stimulate businesses and to boost their growth.

The most recent grant call which closed on September 20 targeted the apparel, manufacturing, renewable and hospitality sectors with the successful applicant being able to undertake equipment purchase for their business or business enhancement initiative.

However, Johnson, when quizzed on the response to the call, expressed disappointment as he said that only 38 small business operators responded. The reason he cited for this is the fact that many medium and small sized enterprises are not “grant-ready” or “bankable”.

“Meaning that they don’t have a business plan, they don’t have the proper financials in place, (and) their taxes are not up to date,” he said.

Johnson stressed that the issue is a cultural one, as many prefer to keep their businesses under the radar and not pay taxes.

With the many businesses around that are not grant ready, Johnson said the strategy is to carry out an awareness campaign, as many don’t even realise they have to be earning a certain amount before they are asked to pay taxes.

“There is a number of grant funding, but persons are reluctant to come forward because they see it as Government trying to get in their business,” he observed.

Highlighting the advantages to the successful applicants who survive the rigorous selection process with the buck stopping at the board level, Johnson said there is a 24-month ‘hand-holding’ monitoring phase, with their receiving any additional support that they may need during the period to ensure the growth, development and sustainability of the business.

“We also provide them with HEART trainees to help supplement the human resource. So this 24 months generally help the persons to stabilise and grow the business itself, so they would have grown some more to employ more people,” Johnson said.