St James business owners get $2.4 million grant in equipment
Sixteen small business operators from the communities of Mt Salem and Salt Spring in St James got a major financial boost to their various enterprises on Friday, thanks to an Enterprise Development Project Grant valued at $2.4 million in equipment from the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF).
The beneficiaries, to include cook-shop operators, hair salon owners and other entrepreneurs, received the grant during a handing-over ceremony held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James. The function was held as part of JSIF’s Integrated Community Development Project, which targets the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Sueyen Thompson, one of the grant recipients and the operator of the Mt Salem-based Nieka Necessities hair and skin-care store, voiced deep gratitude for JSIF’s investment in her fellow beneficiaries and herself.
“To receive this grant from the JSIF in a time like this is a blessing to us, the beneficiaries. The programme has pushed us to better organise our businesses in terms of creating a comprehensive business plan, assessing our business strategy, branding, advertising, and so much more,” said Thompson.
“Programmes like this are particularly important to small and medium-sized businesses. You believed in us and our products, and we are extremely grateful,” Thompson told the JSIF representatives.
The Mt Salem and Salt Spring business operators received their new equipment a day after 11 entrepreneurs from the Anchovy community, also in St James, received a similar grant valued at $2.3 million in equipment for their establishments.
Mona Sue-Ho, JSIF’s senior manager of social development, explained that each business would receive up to $400,000 in equipment, and that they were also trained in how to better manage their respective business enterprises.
“We are providing small enterprises with grants of up to $400,000, and that will largely be in the form of equipment to support their enterprises. Equally important is the capacity building, as they [operators] have to receive training to understand their businesses and be able to sustain their businesses long after they have been given the equipment,” said Sue-Ho.
JSIF managing director, Omar Sweeney, encouraged the recipients to be examples of success to others in their communities.
“The most valuable thing you can walk away with is the confidence of knowing that your businesses are on the right track, and communities can only be strong if the persons in the communities are strong. What I do hope is that other persons in your communities can see and be encouraged by your success, and I hope we will be able to mentor other persons in the community,” said Sweeney.
The Government of Jamaica has allocated $1.9 billion for the Integrated Community Development Project, which will be implemented from April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2023. The project’s Enterprise Development Project Grant will also benefit Denham Town, Greenwich Town and August Town in Kingston, and the Treadlight community in Clarendon.