JIS News

Small and medium-sized enterprises in the tourism and agriculture sectors are set to benefit from grants of up to US$500,000, through the second phase of the Rural Economic Development Initiative (REDI II).

Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) is implementing the initiative under a US$40-million loan from the World Bank.

Managing Director at JSIF, Omar Sweeney told JIS News that entities will become eligible for these grants on the basis of responding to a call for proposals.

“So, we will be sensitising the different parishes through the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo) to let persons know the different types of projects and proposals that they can submit,” he said.

The call for proposals will outline the standard eligibility and priority criteria.

Mr. Sweeney indicated that once the call is issued, persons are expected to submit their applications for evaluation and to also propose the level of funding they would like to receive.

“A big focus of the project is promoting the linkages between agriculture and tourism. We want more farmers to participate in the provision of goods and services to the hotel or the hospitality industry, as well as we want the hospitality industry to request those products from our farmers,” Mr. Sweeney said.

“We want to build reliability – the assurance that supplies can be consistent and in keeping with international quality standards. And so entities that need the push to get them to that level is what we are specifically targeting. Those are the types of proposals that will be favourable because the idea is to ultimately reduce our food import bill and increase the market share of local producers, growers and manufacturers in the industry,” he added.

Entities applying for a grant must be registered with the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies or the Companies Office of Jamaica. If for any reason infrastructure development is required, ownership of the property or at least a 20-year lease is also required.

The first phase of the REDI project was successfully concluded in 2017. It benefited more than 19,000 micro and small-scale rural producers as well as providers of tourism products and services.

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