The third cycle of the Small Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) program designed and managed by the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) began recently with twenty-two participants enrolled in Business Boot Camps. Through the SEED program, the SIDF aims to facilitate the growth and diversification of the economy by financing the start-up of businesses to meet the demands of existing markets or provide new products and services and create employment.

At the ceremonies held on September 23 and 30, 2013 to mark the opening of the Boot Camps in Nevis and St. Kitts respectively, Mr. Terrence Crossman, Chief Executive Officer of the SIDF, told participants that the SIDF is playing its role in contributing to the creation of an enabling environment for small enterprises primarily by making funding easily accessible. The SIDF has allocated $5,000,000.00 to a fund to provide loans up to $100,000.00 at 0% interest with no security required. He further pointed out that the mandatory Business Boot Camp was geared towards building entrepreneurial capacity as lack of managerial skills was cited as a reason small businesses often failed. To assist entrepreneurs even more, the SIDF provides technical expertise through Business Managers and Accountants who are assigned to participants who advance to the incubation stage. The CEO challenged participants, however, that they must possess certain personal characteristics, and identified passion, leadership skills, resilience and flexibility as key qualities of successful entrepreneurs.

Boot Camp Coordinators Mr. Carlisle Powell (Nevis) and Ms. Petra Browne (St. Kitts) gave an overview of the curriculum and shared what was expected of participants during the four weeks of training. Both Coordinators stressed that the Camps would demand a high level of commitment and self-discipline, and assured participants that the sessions would contribute greatly to their personal and professional development. At the end of the Boot Camp, trainees are required to produce a business plan which will determine whether they advance to the incubation stage to receive funding and business support services.

The SEED program represents a direct investment in the Citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis. Other programs of which Citizens are direct beneficiaries include the Fund for the Realization of Economic Empowerment through Subsidized Housing (FREESH), the People Employment Program (PEP), the Housing Enhancement Loan Program (HELP) and the Student Guarantee Fund. The SIDF is committed to assisting the government in nation building, and announced that a program to assist recent college/university graduates will soon be launched.