On Wednesday, September 16 approximately thirty taxi drivers attended a virtual information session on financing options available for small enterprises. The session was organized by the National Recovery Program Bureau’s (NRPB) Enterprise Support Project (ESP) team in collaboration with the board of the Dutch St. Maarten Taxi Association who had further involvement from the Airport Taxi Association and Downtown Taxi Association.

The ESP team met virtually with the members of the various taxi associations, providing insight on the project and how each member could individually apply for a combination of loans and grants up to US$150,000 (One Hundred & Fifty Thousand). Diving into the eligibility criteria, methods of financing, and other specifics of the process, the info session gave the associations an opportunity to pose questions about the project.

The Enterprise Support Project recently launched on August 12, 2020 with financial partners Qredits and the Windward Islands Bank. The project is funded by the Sint Maarten Trust Fund and aims to provide support to micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) through direct financial assistance. In this way, the project will directly contribute to the economic restoration of activities in Sint Maarten.

The virtual information session comes on the heels of two similar virtual sessions held in August, which successfully had close to 150 entrepreneurs in attendance. “What we have here is a great opportunity to help Sint Maarten recover economically from the effects of both hurricane Irma and the more recent COVID-19 pandemic,” says Claret Connor, NRPB Director. “The ESP intends to strengthen the resilience of our economy and help build stronger MSMEs. With very favorable lending terms and even opportunities for grants, I strongly encourage eligible MSMEs to sign up for financing now.”

In an effort to continuously engage with the business community and similar stakeholders on the island, the ESP team continues to reach out to various organizations on the island whose members could potentially benefit from the project. “This opportunity really is one that is rare and will likely not come again,” ESP team member Anisa Dijkhoffz says, highlighting the importance of interested MSMEs seeking information and applying soon. “The project directly boosts Sint Maarten’s economy by providing direct financial assistance that will eventually trickle down positively into our community. Our goal is to provide assistance to approximately 500 MSMEs; and more if we can manage. We’re actively reaching out to a wide range of organizations to highlight the details of  the ESP in order for the project to support as many MSMEs as possible.”