FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Name of Program: Micro Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Support Program

Email: belizemsp@covid19.bz

Toll free number: 0-800-CALL-MSP (225-5677) or 613-7342

Website: https://www.covid19.bz/belizemsp 

What is the MSME Support Program?

The MSME Support Program is a Government of Belize initiative that provides financial relief to Belize’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in order to help safeguard and promote employee retention, as well as assist MSMEs as they transition and adapt to the economic challenges presented by the COVID-19.

·         $2.5 million: Grants to micro-enterprises from across the country, with a cap of $2,500 each.

·         $7 million: Wage subsidies to promote employee retention on the condition that these businesses keep their employees’ Social Security contributions current.This includes full time employees and part-time employees who work a minimum of 8 hours per week and for whom there is a history of Social Security Contributions pre-covid 19 (March 2020).

 

·         $5 million: Soft-loan component limited to approved small- and medium-sized enterprises to assist with working capital in preparation for reopening and accelerating production. 

Beneficiaries of the MSME Support Program will be segmented into three (3) categories determined by the number of employees:

·         Micro Enterprises: which employ 2 – 4 full time employees persons, including the owner

·         Small Enterprises: which employ 5-20 full time employees employees

·         Medium Enterprises: where employ 21-51 full time employees employee

Answer:  Beneficiaries of grant assistance under the program, either from the micro-grant component or through the wage subsidy component, can have the funds deposited to an existing account at another financial institution.  Loan beneficiaries under the program will be required to maintain an account at the National Bank of BelizeIf a loan beneficiary does not have an account with the National Bank of Belize, one will be automatically set up for them.

Answer:

 

·            A fixed sum of $2,500 for Micro Enterprises under the Grant Facility

 

·            Up to $15,000 for Small Enterprises under the Loan Facility

·            Up to $25,000 for Medium Enterprises under the Loan Facility

·            A fixed sum of $300 per month per approved employee under the Wage Subsidy Facility

Answer: A second round is not envisaged at this time. 

Answer: Being “negatively impacted” by COVID-19 refers to the following:

●          Loss of employment

●          Reduction in Sales

 

●          Temporary closure of Business

·       Funds provided under the program can be used for:

·       Retention of employees

·       Financing of working capital:

·       Purchasing of essential raw materials and production inputs

·       Supporting the promotion and marketing of products and services for market expansion

·       Diversification of existing products and services based on changing market conditions

·       Investments in productive assets: machines, equipment, tools, or others that are relevant to the commercial and operational activity of the company.

 

·       Support in the implementation of nationally required COVID-19 health protocols

Answer: Applicants must:

•             Be a Micro, Small, Medium Enterprise as defined in the Target Group section above.

•             Have been operating the business for at least one year prior to March 2020

•             Be engaged in one of the following areas:

Tourism and Leisure

Transportation and logistics

Agriculture

Agro-processing

Fisheries

Light Manufacturing

Creative and Cultural Industries

Commercial Free Zones (Note: only eligible for wage subsidy OR employees may directly apply for Unemployment Relief)

•             Be Belizean owned – and for incorporated businesses that means shareholding must entail a minimum of 51% Belizean ownership

•             Must have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Answer: All applications are initiated online.  The Labor Department will provide assistance at their offices throughout the country. Answer:  The estimated implementation of the program is three (3) months commencing August 1st, 2020.  The application period will run for twenty-one (21) days from launch, and a decision will be taken within fourteen (14) calendar days of closure of the program portal.

 

The Program will roll out in the following Steps:

•           Open call for applications, based on the target groups;

•           Applications online – Applicants will specify for which facility(s) they are applying;

•           Completed Applications will be submitted to the Evaluation Committee (EC) for review. Evaluation Committee (EC) will validate (i) that the applicant meets eligibility requirements (ii) the proposed use of the Program support being requested;

•           Applications will then be forwarded for review and decision by the Approval Committee;

•           The National Bank of Belize will serve as the paying agent for disbursal to approved applicants

The application period will run for twenty-one (21) days from launch on August 1,2020, and a decision will be taken within fourteen (14) calendar days of closure of the program portal.

Answer: All applications are initiated online. The program will provide drop-down lists for applicants to select the program of interest. Due to the spread of COVID, hard copy applications will not be accepted. If an applicant needs assistance to complete the application call the hotline number.

Answer: No. A business cannot apply for both a grant and a loan. However, an enterprise can apply for a grant or loan and the wage subsidy.

Companies seeking to benefit from the wage subsidy facility would need to apply on behalf of their employees. The verified employees would then receive the $150.00 every two (2) weeks for a maximum of three (3) months paid through the employer. 

Answer: No. Self-employed persons are advised to apply under the Unemployment Relief Program. For this application, you can go to www.covid19.bz, click on Covid-19 support programs and then click on Unemployment Relief Program 2.

Answer: The Program utilizes the company’s status at the time of application.  Therefore, the company will be assessed according to the number of persons employed at the time of application.

Answer: No. They are self-employed and are encouraged to apply under the existing Unemployment Relief Program (Phase 2).

Answer: Individual members of the Cooperatives, who do not
hire employees, are considered as self-employed
 and can apply under the existing Unemployment Relief Program
(Phase 2
). Individual members of the Cooperative who have
employees can apply under the MSME Support program. These members who have
employees can also benefit from the Wage subsidy if they are making Social
Security Contributions or commit to registering their employees with the Social
Security Board.

Answer: The nature of the entire suite of MSME support programs are to protect employment; therefore, businesses are encouraged to maintain or commit to retaining their employees

Answer: A bi-weekly disbursement of $150 per employee is sent to the employer as an incentive for keeping staff employed during COVID19. Employers cannot apply for employees that are no longer employed at their company. These employees will be eligible to apply for the Unemployment Relief Program Phase 2.

Answer: The program encourages beneficiaries to avail themselves of trainings outlined that can enhance their capacity. Enrolment will be done on a case-by-case basis depending on existing capacities. 

Accordion Content

§  Business Name Registration

§  Company Registration

§  Tax Registration

§  Social Security for Owner/Business

§  Trade License

Answer: This financing would be channelled through the National Bank of Belize with the following terms:

·         Interest rate will be at 3%, and the maximum repayment term will be 2 years

·         A one-time administrative fee of $25.00

 

·         12-month grace period

·         $2.5 million: Grants to micro-enterprises from across the country, with a cap of $2,500 each.

·         $7 million: Wage subsidies to promote employee retention on the condition that these businesses keep their employees’ Social Security contributions current.This includes full time employees and part-time employees who work a minimum of 8 hours per week and for whom there is a history of Social Security Contributions pre-covid 19 (March 2020).

 

·         $5 million: Soft-loan component limited to approved small- and medium-sized enterprises to assist with working capital in preparation for reopening and accelerating production. 

APPLICATION CHECKLIST

 

What documents will I be asked to submit? Along with the completed application, you must have the following documents:

1. Micro Enterprises: 2 – 4 full time employees/persons, including the owner at the time of application

Micro Grant (Applicants must submit one or more of the following documents:)

§  Business Name Registration

§  Company Registration

§  Tax Registration

§  Social Security for Owner/Business

§  Trade License

 

In cases where the Enterprise does not have any of the documents above, they are considered an Informal Business.  

Informal Micro businesses must provide the following: 

·       Letter of business verification from a Justice of the Peace indicating the business address, that it has been operating at least one year prior to March 2020 with X number of employees etc.

 

Micro Wage Subsidy (Applicants must submit one or more of the following documents:)

§  Business Name Registration

§  Company Registration

§  Tax Registration

§  Social Security for Owner/Business

§  Trade License

Informal businesses that are willing to register and start paying Social Security contributions would be eligible.

 

1.     Small Enterprises: where there are 5-20 full time employees at the time of application

2.     Medium Enterprises: where 21-51 full time employees at the time of application

Small and Medium: Loan and Wage Subsidy (Applicants must submit one or more of the following documents:)

§  Business Name Registration

§  Company Registration

§  Tax Registration

§  Social Security for Owner/Business

§  Trade License

 

Informal Small and Medium Businesses must provide the following;

 

·       Letter of business verification from a Justice of the Peace that indicates the business address, that it has been operating at least one year prior to March 2020 with X number of employees etc.

 

Informal small and medium businesses that are willing to register and start paying Social Security contributions would be eligible for wage subsidy.