Kyron Grant, right, and Angelita Charles talk about micro
credit last week.
Photo: Noel Saldenha
Government is looking to create 5,000 new businesses a year.
Possible? Kyron Grant thinks so. Grant is the manager of the
Enterprise Development Division of the Ministry of Labour
and Micro Enterprise Development.
This year, is the United Nations Year of Micro Credit.
For T&T, that will mean a seminar, a school quiz, an awards
ceremony and a grant programme which will take place later
on this year.
Grant explained last week that micro credit is usually linked
to poverty reduction but in T&T the focus has to be linked
to wealth creation.
a lot of the UN definitions talk about very abject levels
of poverty and we may not have that in T&T, although I
cant say that categorically, theyve brought in
small enterprises and middle income, he said.
While there are poor people in T&T, many would not be
classified at the same level as those facing abject poverty
in other parts of the world.
Any programme aimed only at poverty alleviation, then, would
not have that much of an impact in T&T.
you go with that motivation its not going to be that
relevant but you do have people at that lower level who are
not happy with where they are, he said.
The Division is using the year to reach out to the organisations
that offer micro lending and to micro entrepreneurs themselves.
There are a number of private organisations which offer micro
credit but Grant said the division is wary about imposing
too many limitations on them.
do not want to stifle private organisations, Grant said
but added that there is need for more co-ordination among
the different organisations. One reason, he said, is to make
sure that people do not try to rip off one organisation and
simply approach another.
The micro credit focus continues to be mainly on poor, disenfranchised
women and youth.
Co-ordinator of the policy unit Angelita Charles said that
the local model is about empowering women.
It is generally believed that a dollar lent to a woman goes
further in terms of fighting poverty than that given to a
Young people, Grant added, also need special help, particularly
in T&T with our crime rate, the education system and issues
in terms of employability.
Micro enterprise, Grant said needs to be developed among young
people as an alternative to crime and find employment.
He added that a poverty alleviation tag would also not be
attractive to young people. Thats why wealth creation
and entrepreneurship need to be used.
The division is also trying to create a registry of micro
entrepreneurs. Grant admitted that it would be hard to find
them. While there would be benefits to being registeredlike
tax incentivesmany micro entrepreneurs do not want to
be visible because that would mean paying taxes.
Grant added that in some cases the people employed by micro
entrepreneurs have no protection as workers. There is no way
to know, for example, the conditions under which they work.
Registration is also part of the Governments Fair Share
Programme which will allocate a portion of the States
procurement to small businesses.
As a part of the years celebrations, the division will
also be offering a grant to one applicant. The Government
will match the loan amount offered by a micro lending organisation
and while the grant will not have to be repaid, the original
loan amount will have to be.