The categories and the amount of the grants have increased.
On Tuesday, September 5th, 2023, I had the privilege of having Ms. Alexa Cooper, the Vice President – SME of Invest TCI as the guest for the Financially Speaking Show. This article is to share with you the opportunities that are available for Turks and Caicos Islanders only. I believe that many people are not aware of some of these benefits. I encourage you to apply for the grants and do not be deterred by what you hear other people say. The good news is that these are grants which mean they are not loans and so you do not have to pay it back. However, you are required to maintain financial records.
Invest TCI was launched in December 2015, when our current Premier, Hon. Washington Misick was the Minister of Finance. Of course, many years ago, we had TC Invest but that organization was discontinued under interim administration. I believed it was due to the contingent liabilities associated with the lending arm of the organization.
When Invest TCI was established, the Government had set aside $1million a year to provide grants to Turks and Caicos Islanders in about seven (7) categories, however, many individuals did not utilize the program. Some people argued that the categories were too restricted. However, in 2021, the categories were increased by more than 50%.
Categories for the grants.
There are sixteen broad categories for which the grants are available and under those broad categories, are subcategories.
This category consists of market gardening, hydroponics, farm mechanization, livestock and diary development, Agro-business and Apiculture (beekeeping).
The fisheries category consists of fish farming and fish processing.
Manufacturing, processing, and commercial cleaning services.
This category involves business such as bakery, fresh produce packaging, healthy snack food production.
This tourism category consists of bed and breakfast, vacation rentals, tourism attractions and tourism activities. In the past, the tourism activities were catered to the islands outside of Providenciales.
This category involves the necessary infrastructure needed for the Agriculture and Fisheries categories.
Technology and Innovation
This category involves businesses such as software development, mobile app development and e commerce and online marketplace.
Arts and Music
This category is also self-explanatory and involves areas such as writing. Therefore, if you are writing a book, check out Invest TCI for grants. If you are up and coming musician, check out Invest TCI for grants for your musical equipment.
Heritage, Cultural, Historical and Preservation Projects
This category involves businesses such as museums, cultural events and festivals and heritage publishing and media.
This category involves businesses such as community cabs, taxis, private transfers.
Healthy Living lifestyle
This involves businesses such as healthy juice and smoothie bar, fitness center, personal training and wellness retreat centers.
Highly skilled or specialized services
This category involves services provided by accountants, surveyors, engineers, technicians, and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). This is a great opportunity for you to start your business or augment your existing business.
Business with a direct correlation to the TVET programme
TVET stands for Technical Vocational Education and Training. This is a department at the Turks and Caicos Islands Community College. If an individual enrolls and completes a TVET program, that individual has the opportunity to be eligible for grants in the following areas; Hospitality, general construction, information communication technology, beauty services and automotive services.
Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency
This category involves businesses such as solar panel installation and maintenance services, renewal energy design services and electric vehicle charging station.
Sea Salt Harvesting/ Processing
I think some locals should consider this category very seriously. This is a great opportunity to explore areas such as sea salt spa products manufacturing and sea salt restaurant supply company.
Waste Management is a big demand in our country. This category is self-explanatory.
You may have a business idea that does not constitute any of the categories but if you can demonstrate to Invest TCI, the impact it will have on the economy, Invest TCI has the flexibility to consider granting you a loan.
The value of the grants.
The amount of grant varies from $25k to $145k depending on the classification of the business. The business is categorized into three areas, micro-enterprise, small enterprise, and medium enterprise.
To qualify as a micro enterprise, the number of employees must not be more than 5, the net assets must not be more than $500,000 and the annual turnover must not be more than $250,000. To qualify as small enterprise, the number of employees must be not more than 19 but not less than 6. The net assets must be not more than$1,000,000 and the annual turnover must not be more than $1,000,000. Finally, to qualify as a medium enterprise, the number of employees must not be more than 25 but not less than 20. The net assets must be not more than $2,500,000 and the annual turnover must not be more than $2,500,000.
The value of the grants offered to micro enterprises is $25k which comprises of $10k in cash, $10k in duty exemption and $5k in technical assistance. The value of the grants offered to small business is $55k which involves $20k in cash, $25k in duty exemption and $10k in technical assistance. The value of the grant offered to medium enterprises is $145k comprising of $30k in cash, $100k in duty exemption and $15k in technical assistance.
The technical assistance offered to you include the payment of 75% of the fee charged by service providers to prepare a business plan. I know one of the drawbacks for many individuals is the need to prepare a business plan. Well Invest TCI will provide the technical assistance. Invest TCI also provides technical assistance in the development of products and feasibility studies.
The application forms are now condensed to two pages and not as complex in the past. Try to submit your application before the 15th of each month so that you can get a response within the same month. Otherwise, you may have to wait for the following month.
Some of you will need more than the required amount of grants that Invest TCI is offering. However, I encourage you to apply for the grants. It is great start. If you are involved in the agriculture and fisheries sector, you can get cash grant up to $50,000.
There may be some that argued that the grants are inadequate. For some businesses, this may be the case but at some point, in our lives, we must be responsible and take the risks to start your business. Governments do not have and should not have to provide 100% grants for your business. You must do your part too. The great news is that there is one of the few benefits and privileges that you are entitled to as a Turks and Caicos Islander. You have nothing to lose but a lot to gain by getting cash you do not have to repay.