Economic recovery is paramount if Caribbean countries are to rebound from the COVID-19 crisis. In partnership with the Government of Grenada, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is implementing initiatives to support Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to engage digital solutions.
Through the Department of Economic and Technical Cooperation (DETC) and its implementing partner the Grenada Investment Development Corporation (GIDC), activities have been underway to help to advance business continuity within MSMEs that facilitate the delivery of goods and services in the face of the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. This COVID19 response and recovery initiative also provides technical assistance within selected industries to mitigate against critical disruptions and strengthen national food and garment systems, as well as associated value chains.
Ugo Blanco, Resident Representative a.i. UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, speaking to the role of digital solutions in the COVID-19 recovery efforts stated, “COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way businesses operate and digital transformation mitigates some of the impacts of lockdowns, curfews and physical distancing restrictions, while allowing businesses to reach previously untapped markets”.
As part of the UNDP Multi-sectoral Response Framework to help manage the COVID-19 crisis, grant funding was provided to equip and accelerate MSMEs’ transition into digital business processes, identify new ways to reach customers through online means, and support measures to establish national, cross-border and regional logistics pathways where logistical services were weak.
Within the funding period, the DETC and GIDC were able to urgently mobilise beneficiaries and support significant capacity building. Further, through an ongoing capacity building strategy being implemented by the GIDC for the UNDP MSME Economic Recovery Grant Programme, the 11 grantees are pushing forward with their businesses despite the pandemic.
Allister Bain of the DETC, has recognized the need for digital tooling of MSMEs in the COVID19 response and expressed appreciation for the partnership between the Government of Grenada and UNDP in order to respond to the urgent needs of the population, particularly to address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, Khesha Mitchell- Senior Vice President Business Development in GIDC, indicated that seven of the eleven grants were awarded to female-owned businesses ranging in diversity from small crop farming to eco-jewellery. To commemorate the activity, the GIDC hosted a blended ceremony giving stakeholders an opportunity for both in-person and virtual participation, in keeping with the COVID19 protocols. The event attended by representatives from the Ministry of Finance, GIDC and UNDP reinforced UNDP’s commitment to supporting economic transformation, retooling, reskilling and recovery for MSMEs, and vulnerable populations.
UNDP representative to Grenada, Rudo Udika, was pleased to note that the information provided by the GIDC indicates that the businesses have been actively utilizing the funding and capacity building resources to maintain staff and sustain operations through the purchase of much needed supplies. Further, some of the MSMEs have also begun their transition to a digital model of operation.