Guyanese firms cash in on $38.9M Caribbean Export grants

( The Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) on Monday hosted a grant procurement workshop for five companies in Guyana who were recently awarded some €119,000 (GY$38.9 million) in grant funding through the Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS) as part of the Regional Private Sector Development Programme (RPSDP).

The workshop, held in the boardroom of the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry, saw the participation of Amazon Caribbean Guyana Limited, Eco Woods, Edward B Beharry and Company Limited, Parika Sawmills Limited, and Superior Shingles and Wood Product Incorporated, all recipients of the grant.

GCCI President Lance Hinds said the Caribbean Export has, over the years, been providing financial and technical support to businesses across the Region that wish to improve their competitiveness and potential.

Beneficiaries at the workshop

He said the Chamber was concerned about five years ago that there was not enough Guyanese companies taking the opportunities to participate in the procurement process, “so we began to actively engage in the Caribbean Export to seek to improve that exercise. We have seen our efforts bear some fruit, with applications for regular and accelerated grant; an increase from one in 2010 to 19 at the last call for proposals,” Hinds told the small gathering.

Hinds said while more work must be done in this regard, the GCCI was thrilled by the interest shown by local firms. “We will, however, continue to work with Caribbean Export to build the awareness and encourage more companies to participate in future calls.”

According to the Chamber President, the objective behind the workshop was to take the qualified firms through the second stage. “Now that you are a full-blown beneficiary, there are some critical rules and regulations that must be applied, so that when you spend your money you could be able to get your refunds efficiently.

Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Lance Hinds

“So the idea of this workshop is to brief everyone on what you have to do with your accounts, your finances, how you restructure yourself a bit to make sure that you get those refunds.”

Hinds said companies have found themselves in a “competitiveness process”. He noted that companies have already gone through making sure that the concept they put forward in their proposals were attractive and made sense to the evaluators.

Caribbean Export Competitiveness and Innovation Manager Christopher McNair said the company has been working with the GCCI for over five years now.

One of the objectives, he noted, has been to discover ways through which the Caribbean Export could work with Guyanese firms to build their capacity training and to write better proposals which would reflect the projects that they require funding for. “We are not satisfied with that; we will continue to work with companies in Guyana to improve those numbers. We want to get it across that it is not all good and well.”

The training session was carried out by Caribbean Export Senior Adviser Kirk Brown. Since 2011, during the 10th European Development Fund, Caribbean Export had issued two calls for proposals. The latter of the two was released in January of this year and received some 341 applications from across the region. The five Guyanese firms listed had on this occasion been rewarded grants with a cumulative value of €119,000.

The objective of the Scheme is to open new markets, in particular to capitalise on the benefits of the CARIFORUM-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA); Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME); Caricom Free Trade Agreement (FTA), and other bilateral or multilateral arrangements signed within the region or with African Caribbean and Pacific or European Union Partners. The DAGS also fosters intra-regional cooperation to enhance productivity and capitalise on economies of scale, and promote programmes, which will impact on underdeveloped areas or disadvantaged sectors within the region.

To date, Caribbean Export has awarded 475 Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Business Support Organisations (BSOs) across the region through direct assistance grants totalling €8,372,277. The figures represent the Calls for Proposals (CFPs) during the ninth European Development Fund programme.

The DAGS is a reimbursement grant funding facility specifically designed to provide financial assistance to legally registered SMEs, individuals, and BSOs, with the potential to export their products and services.