The COVID-19 pandemic has severely impacted the survival of businesses, more so the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) which have suffered heavy losses. The Government of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and UNDP have partnered to assist MSMEs within the restaurant industry. The initiative is part of UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean’s Economic Recovery Programme. It will provide financial assistance of 40,000 USD to jump start 10 businesses in the BVI and equip them with the tools to transition from a face-to-face business model to a digital modus operandi. Under the programme, business owners may use the grant for a myriad of purposes, including the purchase of food and cleaning supplies to restart the business, the payment of employees, the procurement of biodegradable containers to package food, the creation of websites and/or apps to facilitate online ordering, delivery and payment for food items and the securing of financial management assistance to streamline operations.
Micro, small and medium enterprises make a significant contribution to the economy of the BVI. It is critical to the socio-economic viability of the country that they remain operational through the slowdown caused by the global pandemic. The Ministry of Finance will ensure that the MSMEs retain employees, increase their revenue, and provide satisfactory services to their customers. UNDP is working to ensure that MSMEs have the resources and develop the skills to remain viable. This initiative is part of a support package to BVI which includes an Economic Impact Assessment, soon to be released, surge support to the capacities of the Ministry of Finance and small private sector grants, like this support to BVI restaurants.
This programme complements the Government of the Virgin Island’s Economic Response Plan – Phase 2 which includes direct monetary assistance to MSMEs in the tune of USD 6.5 million. The support is anticipated to help MSMEs supplement lost revenue and help in retaining employees. It comes on the heels of another initiative launched by the Government to reduce operational costs during periods of reduced commerce and revenue. The additional relief provided by the three-month amnesty on electricity payments could provide additional cash flow for impacted MSMEs to support other aspects of their operations.
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