Growing with Grants: Getting Funding for your Business in Jamaica

Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. Only the bravest of the brave, those who are imbued with grit, are truly successful. While entrepreneurs are truly valiant souls, they, like everyone else, need help at one point or another. Entrepreneurs can get the assistance they need in a variety of ways. A mentor can help if you need someone with experience to bounce around ideas. Taking a course would help if you need to develop a specific skill or skill set as an entrepreneur.

What if the assistance you require though is simply in the form of cold, hard cash? How can you get a capital injection that would suit your needs? The simplest answer would be to obtain a loan, or seek investors. Experienced entrepreneurs will tell you that traversing these pathways are easier said than done.

Garnering loans and investors require proof of steady income generation and projections that your business is poised to grow and expand with the passage of time. The truth is, many business owners who need financial assistance are not quite at the point in their entrepreneurial journey to guarantee this stability. 

How then can entrepreneurs get a cash injection without a loan or willing investors? This is unfortunately a challenge that many businesses have faced and are currently dealing with as a result of the global pandemic. The astute business practitioner is always on the hunt for opportunities and should be poised to seize them as they come.

What if I told you there was a way to get the cash you need to grow your business or to simply keep it afloat in these perilous times? I know what you’re thinking. I’m not talking about some seedy, no-questions-asked loan from questionable characters. I’m referring to a perfectly legal way to secure funds for your entrepreneurial ventures – business grants.

What is a Grant?

Grants are monies gifted by an organization to a recipient. This money is non-repayable and this distinguishes it from a loan. These monies are usually issued by governments, foundations or other qualifying institutions. It may seem strange that governments or foundations would essentially hand out ‘free money’. The truth is, grants offered to businesses do stimulate the economy and bolster recovery initiatives.

Non-governmental agencies and even larger corporations may offer grants to smaller enterprises. These grants are usually geared towards interests, such as research and development, that benefit the granting institution. It’s important that you seek out grants that are aligned to your business. 

Grants are generally considered ‘free’ money. But, there are certain criteria that must be met before a business can qualify to receive a grant. Here, I will discuss the necessary steps to take to secure a grant for your business in Jamaica.

Securing a Grant for your Business in Jamaica

Now that you know what grants are, let’s get to the really important question – how can I secure a grant for my business in Jamaica? There’s no concrete way to go about the process but there are a few conditions that must be met to be qualified.

1. Ensure that your business is registered and tax compliant.

The first criteria for securing a grant is to ensure that you venture is registered and, even more important, tax compliant. You can learn important tips for filing taxes in Jamaica by reading this article

Grant funding institutions won’t look your way if you haven’t taken this step. A tax compliance certificate is a document that shows that your enterprise is in observance of the tax requirements and laws stipulated by the government. In Jamaica, tax complaint businesses are issued with a Tax Compliant Certificate or TCC. This document proves that statutory deductions and payments of tax liabilities are current. You can learn more about the TCC by reading this article

2. Get yourself organized.

It’s wise to get your business in tip top organizational shape before seeking out grant opportunities. Granting institutions will most definitely want to see your records, and not just for accountability matters. An organized business will more likely put gifted funds to better use than one that is still searching for bearings. Securing the services of accounting consultants can help you get your ducks in a row. Granting institutions want to know that their funds will be put to good use and organization is one indicator that it will be.

3. Do your research.

Grants aren’t just going to fall on your lap. You may catch a lucky break if you’re in the right circles. But, more often than not, entrepreneurs go searching for grant-aided funding. There are a number of governmental and non-governmental agencies that provide funding to Jamaican businesses. The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) assists clients in finding grants suitable for their business.

It helps to be aware of these entities so you can know where to look. Subscribing to mailing lists can put you within earshot, so to speak, if grants are available. Look for agencies that are aligned to your business. Corporations typically issue grants to small and medium enterprises with interests aligned with theirs. Grants can be used for equipment or research and development.

3. It’s all in the proposal.

After pinning down the first two steps, it’s time to write your proposal. A grant proposal is a document prepared and presented to a funding institution with the hopes of swaying the reviewers to commit to helping your business. Grant proposal writing is an art; it requires some skill to be able to organize your business into a coherent piece that will get you the assistance you need.

Personally, I would recommend that all entrepreneurs learn the intricacies of grant proposal writing. Funding agencies will tell you what information you need to present to be eligible for a grant. Learning the art of grant proposal writing will be the edge you’ll need to score the deal. Entrepreneurs are avid readers and they can learn by reading articles or books that teach the tips and tricks of grant proposal writing. Depending on your business model, grant proposal writing could be a service you offer after you have mastered the skill yourself!

For entrepreneurs who may need one-on-one guidance on grant proposal writing, you will be pleased to know that there are agencies in Jamaica who provide this service. The University of the West Indies Open Campus offers a course on grant proposal writing for entrepreneurs and staff of non-profit agencies who may assist entrepreneurs. The JBDC also hosts workshops on the topic and offers specialized services to clients bidding for grants.

Entrepreneurs can also opt to hire a writer who specializes in grant proposal writing to assist if they feel the need to have a professional touch on the first few tries of securing a grant. 

Capital Investment is Key 

The global pandemic has dealt a deadly blow to many small businesses and corporations alike. Entrepreneurs have to dig deeper if they’re to survive such perilous times. Many governments and corporations have offered assistance in the form of grants to hard hit businesses. Your ability to secure a grant as a means of capital investment can be the deciding factor in the survival of your enterprise. 

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