The government has increased by one-third, taking to EC$3 million, the amount of money allocated to an initiative that gives grant funds to entrepreneurs 40 years and under.
Further, because of the impact of the COVID-19, the Promotion of Youth Microenterprises programme will, this year, consider applications from persons older than 40, in a sort of PRYME+ programme, for which the government had allocated EC$1.5 million.
Minister of Finance Camillo Gonsalves said that persons in the cultural and creative industries who have lost income because of the pandemic could apply at the Ministry of Tourism and Culture for income support.
“That’s one set of money. But additionally, you can come to PRYME, which is the entity that delivers; we promote youth entrepreneurship,” he said.
Gonsalves said that persons could apply for grants to retool or to explore a totally different business venture.
“And there’s a special [amount] set aside within the PRYME umbrella of an additional $350,000 for cultural and creative artists. And you can get anywhere from $2,500 as a grant to $40,000 as a grant.
“If you’re a cultural and creative artist, you may come in. You may say, ‘Look, I want to start a music school because I’m a musician and I want to teach people music.’
You may say, ‘I want to enhance a recording studio.’ You may say, ‘I don’t normally make costumes, but guess what, I think there’s an opportunity now for me to make COVID masks … instead, but I need some money, sewing machine materials.’
“What have you, you can take your talent to PRYME as a cultural and creative artist and get support there.”
He noted that the supplementary budget that parliament approved in April expanded PRYME by EC$1 million, taking the allocation to EC$3 million.
“So this year, if you’re [18 to 40 years old], you have a business idea or you have a business, $3 million is available to you as grant money, you don’t have to pay it back. It’s not a loan…
There’s a wonderful opportunity, if you have a business idea, if you have an entrepreneurial spirit – to get support from PRYME,” Gonsalves said.
He said that the PRYME Steering Committee is considering the first wave of applications and will make a recommendation to Cabinet this week, of the first 40 to 50 recipients of PRYME grants.
“And we anticipate that that will be a monthly occurrence — 50-plus young people receiving grants from PRYME.”
He, however, noted that the COVID-19 pandemic began affecting SVG after the announcement of PRYME in February.
He said there are a lot of small business operators whose owners are older than 40 and have been affected by the pandemic.
Among these, he mentioned hair salons, barbershops, food vendors and caterers.
The finance minister said:
“We have essentially what is our PRYME+ of similar support programme for people who don’t fall under the 40-year-old threshold.”
Gonsalves said PRYME will be a year-to-year programme of support but this year, because of the pandemic, it is being expanded PRYME+ to include people who are over 40 and have a small business.
“And we’ve put $1.5 million in the pot for those people. Again, same terms, $2,500 to $40,000 as a grant and I want you to think about all what we just said there,” he said.