Bahamian companies now have another avenue to access venture capital funds as Direct Assistance Grant Scheme (DAGS) – a financial assistance provider for companies wishing to export their goods and services outside The Commonwealth of The Bahamas – was introduced to the Bahamian public this week.
DAGS facilitated a day-long workshop hosted by the Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) Monday.
The grant funds, which are provided by Caribbean Export Development Agency (CEDA) in collaboration with the European Union, are available to the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) private sector.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online Monday, Christopher McNair, manager of competitiveness and export promotion for CEDA said, the programme is one of the organization’s flagships and has been around for a long time.
“It’s the only program that we have where we actually provide direct financial assistance to companies,” McNair said.
Companies in the Caribbean region have long been plagued with limited access to financial resources and that’s where, McNaair said, DAGS comes in – providing an injection of capital for companies to be able to develop their export capacity.
“The grant is a reimbursement grant,” he explained.
“The companies have to spend their monies and then we reimburse them 70 per cent up to a max of €50,000 euros.
“The amount of money on the grant is a minimum of €20,000 to €50,000.”
Additionally, companies selected for the grant have a period of six months to complete their project, after which, they send their documentation to CEDA.
The reimbursement team then reviews the completed project and pays the company back up to 70 per cent of its initial capital.
“If you are, for example, in the business of manufacturing pepper sauce and you are exporting your product outside The Bahamas, not to the Family Islands, but outside the country to Jamaica, Barbados or Trinidad & Tobago, but you want to build your capacity more … to go into additional markets. Maybe you want to go into Europe; maybe you want to go into Latin America. This program can assist you in that,” he said.
“If you are a company that is not exporting but (that) is something that is part of your strategic direction – your strategic growth – and you’re looking to move now from The Bahamas into a new country (such as) Dominican Republic or Haiti; this is the program that can get you there.”
Only two Bahamian companies have benefited from DAGS between 2011 and 2016.
Funding for the programme is provided by the European Development Fund (EDF).
The EDF will fund DAGS’ second session, which runs from 2017 to 2021. Applications for the grant scheme are available online at the Caribbean Export website – www.carib-export.com – and will be accepted until June 4.