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NRPB Information booth for the Enterprise Support Project at this year’s SMILE event

PHILIPSBURG: The National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) will be present at this year’s St. Maarten Innovations, Initiatives & Industries Link-Up Event (SMILE)with an information booth for micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) that want to learn more about the Enterprise Support Project (ESP). SHTA’s SMILE Event will be held at the University of St. Martin (USM) on Friday, March 25 and Saturday, March 26, 2022. This was announced today by the NRPB in conjunction with the St. Maarten Hospitality & Trade Association (SHTA).

The ESP contributes to Sint Maarten’s economic recovery through direct financial assistance and entrepreneurial training initiatives.The project offers various grant/loan packages in partnership with financial institutions, such as commercial banks and social lenders. Currently, the ESP collaborates with Windward Islands Bank (WIB), Banco di Caribe and Qredits.

The information booth will allow for a swift assessment of a company’s eligibility for financial support, and it will provide guidance on how to start the application process. The ESP team will also use SMILE as a platform to give an update on the project’s status.

Access to finance has been a long-standing issue for many small businesses in Sint Maarten, especially in the wake of Hurricane Irma and the COVID-19 pandemic. Small businesses are the bedrock of Sint Maarten’s economy and a major source of job creation. They help to encourage innovation, diversify the economy, and contribute to social cohesion of communities.

Anisa Dijkhoffz, Project Manager of the Enterprise Support Project, says that: “The ESP team invites all companies and small businesses interested in learning more about the project to visit our information booth at SMILE. The booth is meant to provide guidance on the eligibility criteria and the process of applying for financial assistance through the ESP. The SMILE event, with presence of the St. Maarten Hospitality and Trade Association and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is a great platform to share information about what initiatives and opportunities are possible for the Sint Maarten business community.”

SHTA’s SMILE event was founded in the wake of Hurricane Irma to inspire the Northeastern Caribbean business community with best practices in innovation and sustainability, locally and internationally. SMILE has proven to be a great opportunity for professionals to get (re)connected and obtain professional updates and ideas to further enhance their skills.

For this edition of SMILE, a close eye is kept on the developments pertaining to the pandemic to guarantee safety. If the status at the time requires reduced crowd size, tickets will be allocated on a first-come-first-serve basis. Those interested can contact office@shta.com to reserve a ticket, or book at smile sintmaarten.com.

The ESP is a project of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund, which 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.

For more information about the ESP and its eligibility requirements, visit the NRPB website: www.nrpbsxm.org/esp.

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