Some 1,509, persons, or 3% of the workforce, had applied, as of June 12, for grants under the Promoting Youth Microenterprises Programme (PRYME), geared at persons 18 to 40 years old, and PRYME-plus, which will, this year, give similar grants to persons older than 40.

“The PRYME programme is gaining in popularity, and we’re now receiving 100 new applications per week for PRYME and PRYME-plus,” Minister of Finance, Camillo Gonsalves told Parliament on Monday.

He said that to date, 254 individuals have received grants totalling $1.7 million.

The average grant has been about $7,500 but the majority of the grants — 65% — have been under $5,000.

This is tier 1, which means 65% of the recipients have received between $2,500 and $5,000; 25% have received between EC$5,000 and EC$15,000 and 10% have received between EC$15,000 and EC$40,000 in grants, the finance minister told lawmakers.

He said that across all tiers, 18% of the recipients have been PRYME-plus members.

Gonsalves pointed out that the grantees do not receive all of their money in their hand.

“If a grantee, for example, indicated that he or she wants to buy equipment, let’s say a fridge, or a stove, or chainsaw, or computers, the PRYME Implementation Unit procures those items from local retailers on behalf of the grantee and then we’ll deliver that equipment to the grantee.

“So in many cases, a grantee can receive a $5,000 or a $10,000 grant, but $9,000 of that might be on equipment and they may get $1,000, or even less in their hand, as the implementation unit is purchasing the majority of the equipment they request.”

Gonsalves said that the programme has been broad-based reaching the length and breadth of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The 254 awardees come from 102 villages across SVG.

Gonsalves said 56% of the grantees to date have been female and 44% males.

“The types of businesses, the most popular types of businesses to date, I’ll list the top 10 leading sector is agriculture and agro processing, followed by beauty and grooming products and services, catering and food preparation, landscaping and gardening, construction and carpentry, automotive care, retail sales, professional services including secretarial accounting and veterinary services, garment design and manufacturer audio visual production and then a catch-all where we have some very exciting ideas in ICT education, manufacturing, tourism and the like,” he said.