The Enterprise Support Project has now helped 150 small businesses to recover in tough economic times
PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten – In just two years of implementation, the Trust Fund’s Enterprise Support Project (ESP) has approved more than US $11 million and disbursed US $10.4 million in financial support packages to 150 local businesses to help them recover from the effects of the Sint Maarten economy’s recent downturns.
Officially launched in August 2020, the ESP is providing a much-needed boost to the economy by facilitating grants and low-interest loans to micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) with the help of partnering financial institutions Qredits, Banco di Caribe, Windward Islands Bank (WIB), and the Ontwikkelingsbank van de Nederlandse Antillen (OBNA).
As of September 6, 2022, exactly 150 MSMEs have been approved for financial assistance through ESP. These enterprises are diverse and represent many sectors of the local economy, such as construction and landscaping companies, health service providers, bus and taxi operators, food delivery services, fitness gyms, retailers of locally made clothing, and hair salons, just to name a few. Out of the 150 approved businesses, 51 have been start-up companies and 99 are existing businesses.
Pirate-themed tourist attraction The Rusty Parrot has the honor of being the 150th MSME approved under the ESP. Thanks to the ESP, this establishment - located in Dock Maarten’s marina and overlooking the picturesque Great Bay - will be able to add new features to the existing space, including a pirate-themed restaurant on its upper deck.
It was fitting that The Rusty Parrot’s tailored financial assistance package was facilitated through OBNA, itself being the latest financial institution to partner with ESP. OBNA joined forces with the project in May 2022.
“Although we are the newest partner of the ESP, we are very excited to be a part of this project. OBNA is a development bank, and this means that economic progress is our foremost priority. We want to see the Sint Maarten small- and medium-sized business sector grow, and the opportunities provided to entrepreneurs through this project is something that we are proud to be a part of,” said OBNA Interim Managing Director Shurmel Elias.
“The Trust Fund was established to help Sint Maarten recover from the devastating 2017 hurricane season, in which our country was directly struck by one of the most powerful storms ever recorded. The damage was not only physical, but also financial and economic, which only intensified with the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. As small businesses are the beating heart of Sint Maarten’s economy, we have focused our recovery efforts on where it is needed the most. I am happy that we have been able to assist so many entrepreneurs, who often have limited access to funds in the local market. I look forward to the project helping even more entrepreneurs and I encourage all interested business owners to contact our helpful team,” said National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) Director Claret Connor.
Reflecting on how the ESP has been a lifeline for local small businesses in these tough economic times, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion said, “Congratulations to Rusty Parrot. While 150 may not sound like a lot, in the context of the ESP it represents more than just 150 individuals and embodies teams of people with a shared goal, with each being granted the opportunity to pursue their dreams. This is thanks to the ESP and the hard-working people spanning multiple organizations, also with a shared goal of making dreams into reality.”
For more information about ESP and its financial packages, please visit www.nrpbsxm.org/esp.
The Sint Maarten Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.