$4.5M for business development in Belize Print E-mail
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Thursday, 27 October 2011 00:00

Kirk BrownCaribbean Export is a regional trade and investment promotion organization which assists in development in fifteen member-states which includes Belize. These fifteen member-states make up the CARIFORUM (or Caribbean Forum) of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP States).

The European Union has provided funding for investment promotion of about twenty-eight million European dollars to these 15 member states as a part of the Regional Private Sector Development Program. Of the twenty-eight million dollars, 4.5 million is currently being offered to private businesses in these 15 member states, including Belize, as a part of the Direct Assistance Program.

On Monday, representatives of Caribbean Export, who essentially are caretakers of that fund, and who must account for every single dollar, introduced to members of Belize’s private sector that they are eligible for a reimbursement fund which will make up the 4.5 million in the Direct Assistance Program.

There are several things that owners of private entities in Belize must consider if they will apply for the Direct Assistance Program. Firstly, each business entity will have to submit a proposal for growth or development of their businesses to the Caribbean Export organization.

Each entity must be able to carefully explain what will be done in the project, and why it must be done for the development purposes. It will then be reviewed by the specialists at Caribbean Export who will determine if they are eligible, and they are candidates for this program.

The next important fact is that each business will be competing against entities from all of the fifteen member-states. This means that this is heavy competition for limited funding.

In order for business entities to be eligible, they must be legally registered and established. No start-up entities can have access to the funds.

Because it is a reimbursement program, no money is given upfront, and each entity must be able to provide proof that they can afford to carry out these proposals for growth or development of their business. They will then be reimbursed for their expenditure.

Each entity can apply for a grant of five thousand European dollars or another for thirty thousand European dollars. The eligibility for these grants will be determined based on the costs of the projects, but each project is capped at thirty thousand dollars.

The Guardian spoke to Kirk Brown, Senior Grant Advisor for Caribbean Export who told us that once the business entity has been approved for the grants, there are specific rules that they must abide by or they will not receive the full reimbursement for their expenditure.

The entities must procure goods and services only from companies that operate in ACP States and or European Union member-countries.

Brown also said that the entities must document each and every single transaction that it wishes to be reimbursed for. If that transaction has not been properly documented, Caribbean Export will not reimburse that expense.

Any other information about the Direct assistance program, and about Caribbean Export, can be found at their website at

The formal opening for applications started on Friday, October 21, and the deadline is 4:30 p.m., Barbados Time, on November 28. Applications can be submitted via email, or by hard copy to Caribbean Export’s Head Office in Barbados, or to the Sub-regional Office in the Dominican Republic.