THE Small Business Bureau (SBB), which falls under the Ministry of Tourism, Industry, and Commerce, on Wednesday, disbursed $7.5 million in grants to 15 small business owners in Region Two.
Minister of Tourism, Industry and Commerce, Oneidge Walrond, during a simple ceremony, reaffirmed government’s commitment to aid in the growth of sustainable small businesses. She noted that these businesses not only generate income for the entrepreneurs but also create opportunities for job creation.
The minister said that since taking office in August 2020, government has been implementing systems to support small businesses. She highlighted that one of the first moves by government to support this vision was to increase the small business grant from $250,000 in 2020 to $500,000 in 2021. She explained that government had assessed the needs of small businesses and found that the grant should be increased to mitigate the expenses that occur at the start-up stages of a business.
“We want you to be able to deliver to the people and for the people. It’s not about sitting in our offices in Georgetown and deciding what you need without even seeing your faces, or knowing what you’re doing. We want to be able to implement and think of policies that affect your lives but we can’t do that if we don’t hear from you, if we don’t know what you look like, if we don’t know what affects your community, and so that is the idea,” said Minister Walrond.
With 15 business owners in Region Two benefitting from the significant grant, the minister highlighted that the ministry’s aim was to ensure that those businesses that were not able to receive grants in 2020 had the opportunity to do so in 2021. According to the Small Business Bureau, only one small business in the entire region received a grant in 2020.
Meanwhile, in keeping with government’s commitment to aid small business growth, she encouraged business owners to apply for the ministry’s COVID-19 business grant, which provides each eligible business person with a $250,000 cash grant to alleviate the devastating effects of the pandemic on their business.
“COVID-19 has been really devastating on all of our businesses and the way we have done things and as government we want also to provide the support. At the Small Business Bureau as well, we have the COVID relief cash grant so if you have a small business [or] you’ve been registered as a small business…there is also a COVID grant to help you if you can prove or if you say that your business has been affected by the COVID pandemic,” said Minister Walrond.
Other recent systems implemented by the ministry to provide ease to small business owners include the moratorium or authorisation to debtors to postpone payment on compliance for the National Insurance Scheme (NIS) and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) to ensure that these businesses have the chance to recover from the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We put a moratorium on compliances for NIS and GRA because we understand that it’s difficult sometimes for business to be able to get that before you get your cash grant. The idea is to be able to get relief quickly to you so you can keep your businesses alive,” the minister added.