The project team of the Enterprise Support Project (ESP) successfully concluded its first business skills training program on Thursday, February 17, 2022.
As evidenced by the program’s name, “Small Business Fundamentals”, this 3-week course aimed to train a select group of 20 entrepreneurs in the foundational skills needed to run a successful small business. The sessions were facilitated by Prichard “Sagan” Gibson and Kate Bell of Goalmachine, who used dynamic and engaging exercises to discuss marketing, financial management, tax compliance, writing a business plan and keeping a solid administration, among other key issues in entrepreneurship.
The participants chosen for this pilot program were a combination of ESP recipients and existing small businesses. Through the project’s financial partners Qredits, Windward Islands Bank (WIB), and Banco di Caribe, the ESP facilitates grants and loans to small businesses to help them recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic. As of February 17, exactly 114 small businesses have been approved for ESP financing.
In addition to direct financial assistance, one of the ESP’s key components is building entrepreneurial skills among small business owners. This is aimed at improving the resiliency of the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector to adapt to external shocks.
Many of the training program’s participants have reached out to the ESP project team and Goalmachine to thank them for organizing and implementing such an informative and insightful training course.
“This was such a rewarding experience,” said facilitator Gibson. “The participants of this program show just how many intrepid minds we have on the island. Their deep engagement and sharp questions made me realize how much a small business can benefit from the right type of support. I commend the NRPB for making an informative program like this accessible to those who really want to make the most of it. It was an absolute joy to work on this project.”
“The ESP aims to restore economic activity in Sint Maarten and enhance the resilience of our entrepreneurial sectors. While the project has been known for providing financial assistance, we are committed to supporting small businesses in a holistic way,” explains National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor. “To use a proverb, this means teaching entrepreneurs how to fish instead of simply handing them a fish. This training program is a demonstration of our commitment to giving all the tools necessary for success, not only from the NRPB, but also of our partners in the Trust Fund; the Government of Sint Maarten and the Government of the Netherlands.”
The Government of Sint Maarten has strongly supported the ESP since its inception in 2020. “Entrepreneurs are the wheels of our economic development that allows St. Maarten to drive into a more innovative and resourceful landscape; whether it’s in form of agriculture, technology, or shared service economies, to name a few. I am happy to see them getting the necessary training and making use of the opportunity to access funds through the Enterprise Support Project to make their ambitions a reality,” said Finance Minister Ardwell Irion.
As part of ESP’s continuing efforts to support small businesses in innovative ways, the project is also a co-sponsor of this year’s Small Business Academy program, offered by Qredits. This is a separate training program to the Small Business Fundamentals pilot program and is geared more towards aspiring entrepreneurs.
“The more support that is collectively offered to small businesses, the better our national economy will be. The ESP is proud to be a co-financier of the Small Business Academy. Running simultaneously with our pilot program, I have no doubt that we jointly helped to address the diverse needs of the small business community,” said Director Connor.
The ESP is a project of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, which is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.
For more information about the ESP and its eligibility requirements, please visit www.nrpbsxm.org/esp.