It was a joyous moment when taxi driver Clyde “Boasy” Boasman came the office of the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) on Wednesday, December 15, 2021.
With wet ink still adorning his grant agreement, the Enterprise Support Project (ESP) team congratulated the owner and operator of Clyde Boasman Taxi Services, who, with the stroke of the pen, became the 100th small business owner to receive direct financial support through the Enterprise Support Project (ESP).
Boasman applied for the ESP’s Asset and Repair package via Windward Islands Bank (WIB) and will use the funds to purchase a new Toyota bus to replace his aging and unreliable 2012 Ford Express. The vehicle started having serious mechanical issues in 2019, which resulted in Boasman being unable to operate his business for extended periods, the longest of which spanned six months.
“Sometimes I even had to pass on clients to other drivers when my van was having problems. With the pandemic going on and less tourists on the island, you can’t afford to be off the road for a long time,” said Boasman, who also works part-time as a security guard at the Princess Juliana International Airport. “I’m thankful for this project, through which I can now take my taxi business to the next level. I think each small business owner on Sint Maarten should take this opportunity seriously and make use of it to grow their business with the things they need.”
Through the collaboration of partnering financial institutions Qredits, Windward Islands Bank, and Banco di Caribe, the ESP has provided more than US $7.3 million in direct financing since the project was launched in August 2020.
The ESP has various support packages to fit the needs of eligible business owners.
One of these is the Asset and Repair package, which consists of a 65 percent grant and a 35 percent loan. Asset and Repair packages can be used to buy business items that can generate profit, and finance minor repairs, such as painting, plastering, tiling and basic roof work.
Another package – called working capital – is a 100 percent loan for operational expenses, such as paying rent and utility bills and procuring inventory.
Eligible entrepreneurs can combine several packages, but the total application cannot exceed $150,000 for existing businesses and $85,000 for new businesses.
“Small businesses are the bedrock of Sint Maarten’s economy. Unfortunately, we were hit first by Hurricane Irma, followed by the COVID-19 pandemic. As these twin blows have left our economy in bad shape, the ESP is here to promote economic growth by helping the small business sector to get back on its feet. As the NRPB, we are happy to be implementing this beneficial project,” said NRPB Director Claret Connor.
“In Sint Maarten, there has never been an initiative or program like this before, and I encourage all business owners to contact us at the NRPB to discuss their business and how we can help them reach their goals,” said ESP Project Manager Anisa Dijkhoffz.
The World Bank recently extended the project to June 30, 2025. Previously, the closing date was December 31, 2024. With this extension, applicants can benefit from improved repayment conditions, making the project even more favorable for small business owners.
The ESP is a project of the Sint Maarten Recovery and Resilience 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.