Nearly 150 businesses that suffered equipment and infrastructural damage during the September hurricanes are said to have benefitted from government grants.
Director of the Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs, Karia Christopher made the announcement on Friday during a public consultation with members of the local business community.
She said: “We are pleased to report that we have distributed a first cohort for the grant programme, which is free money. To date, 141 recipients have received funding from the Government of the Virgin Islands — as much as $10,000.”
Christopher said more than 70 percent of local businesses were found to be uninsured after hurricanes.
She said business owners can still apply for grants; adding that businesses in need of further financial support will be able to access more funds when government rolls out its loan programme.
The Director for Trade said her department is now awaiting the official go-ahead from Cabinet to launch the programme.
“I can’t speak too much on that right now but we are saying it’s up to $20,000 in the first instance and that loan, obviously, is a soft loan programme that will have to be repaid but it is not fully formalized,” she told business owners.
In the meantime, business owners still in need of grants are being told to register at the Department of Trade or on the sister islands.
Christopher said the funds are easy to access as long as applicants have a trade license that is up-to-date, and have no infractions on their files.
However, persons with infractions can have it rectified before applying for a grant, Christopher noted.
Business Development Centre
Following the passage of the two September hurricanes, the Department of Trade also opened its doors to the business community so affected business owners could have access to office space, internet, and equipment.
“There’s a minimum of three hours that you could use … There is not a cap on how many days you can come,” Christopher said.
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