Published On: Mon, Aug 24th, 2020

Millions available for Enterprise Support Program (ESP)

PHILIPSBURG – The National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) launched its Enterprise Support Program (ESP) with a virtual presentation. There is $35 million available for the next four years for eligible projects. The program is financed through the World Bank Trust Fund.

The program’s online launch included brief introductory remarks by NRPB-director Claret Connor, ministers Egbert Doran (Public Housing, Urban Planning, Environment and Infrastructure) and Ardwell Irion (Finance), Elwin Groenevelt (director microlender Qredit), Derek Downes (Windward Islands Bank), Michelle Keane (World Bank program manager for the St. Maarten trust fund), Robert Jan de Wilde (office of the Dutch Representative) and Raquel Lo Fo Wong, director of the Central Bank office in St. Maarten.

“Micro, small and medium enterprises are key for the island’s economic recovery and for job creation. This project can benefit Sint Maarten’s economy by supporting viable local enterprises, so that they can continue operations, and better prepare for the future,” said Michelle Keane.

The ESP project aims to support for-profit enterprises with maximum monthly revenue of 100,000 guilders ($55,866) that are registered and up to date with the Chamber of Commerce and the Tax Inspectorate.

Projects must be compliant with St. Maarten’s environmental policy and with the World Bank’s social and environmental requirements. These projects must also fall within so-called eligible sectors. Excluded from the program are companies that busy themselves with land purchase or real estate speculation, gambling, casinos and brothels. Also excluded are projects that require “significant labor influx.” In other words, the projects must contribute to the development of local employment.

There are three different support programs. The first one is for Asset and Repair programs: the ESP provides a 65 percent grant combined with a 35 percent loan for these activities. For working capital the ESP has loans with a maximum of $60,000 available. Lastly, it is possible to refinance existing loans to a maximum of $20,000 of the outstanding amount.

Currently, Qredits and the Windward Islands Bank participate in the program, but negotiations with other local financial institutions are ongoing.

Details about the program can be found on the NRPB web site (nrpbsxm.org) under the projects button.

In the meantime, the virtual launch on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, the NRPB has hosted two information sessions for MSME’s on August 17 and August 19. Qredits and WIB also participated in these sessions to inform MSME’s (Micro, Small and Medium-size Enterprises).

Each session was attended by 50 to 60 participants. Hereby please find the link to the slides used in the session and the frequently asked questions. For more information about the project, please visit the NRPB website at https://nrpbsxm.org/esp and those of the implementing partners https://stmaarten-nl.qredits.com/ and https://www.wib-bank.net/business/commercial-credit

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