Unemployed and vulnerable single mothers from various communities around the island can now benefit from effective business and micro enterprise opportunities following a review and upgrade of the Micro Enterprise Assistance Programme (MEAP) to allow for increased emphasis on single mothers.
A collaborative initiative of the James Belgrave Micro-enterprise Development Fund (BELfund) and the St. Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF), roll out of the new targeted Single Mothers Micro Enterprise Assistance Programme (SMMEAP) in August 2022 was made possible through a sizable cash injection from the Saint Lucia Electricity Services Limited (LUCELEC) into the Social Investment Fund being administered by the Saint Lucia Social Development Fund (SSDF).
“This Programme is there to help vulnerable individuals and households meet their basic needs and improve their circumstances. This year, we have collaborated with LUCELEC who donated EC$450,000.00 to the Social Investment Fund (SIF), a portion of which is being used to implement the SMMEAPs in the north and South of the island, in collaboration with the BELfund,” remarked Project Coordinator Kenyal Wynne.
With an allocation of EC$300,000.00 towards programme implementation and the availability of EC$10,000.00 interest free loans for business startup, the Single Mothers Micro Enterprise Assistance Programme is designed to break the dependency cycle and assist mothers who have feasible business ideas.
Wynne went further to underscore the significance of mentoring and training aspect of the programme to individuals who have decided to enter the cottage industry. “The training encompasses activities that expose participants to the realities of the business environment and provides the required skills to develop and maintain sustainable businesses”, he explained.
Established in 2000, Belfund was created primarily to promote sustainable development through self-help micro-enterprise projects, by offering loans in all categories of business. The loans are classified as soft loans, with no interest attached.
To date, forty-two (42) applicants have been approved under the Single Mothers Micro Enterprise Assistance Programme to start-off new small businesses.
SOURCE: Ministry of Equity, Social Justice & Empowerment