A further 14 Grand Bahama businesses have received grant funding from an initiative that has already awarded almost $160,000 to assist with post-Hurricane Dorian restoration.
Team RISE, which stands for Restoring Industries and Sustaining Employment, confirmed the 14 recipients had been chosen from a second group of applicants who had just completed the selection committee process.
The effort is a partnership between The Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA), and Mercy Corps International (MC), a global humanitarian aid organisation, together with key funding partners, Bacardi Global and the American Red Cross.
Henry St George, a GBPA director, said: "We are encouraged by the quality of applications coming in for RISE and the diligence of the applicants. Our analysis of the incoming application data has reiterated a really pressing need for funding to micro and small business owners post-Dorian, and we are pleased to be able to provide a comprehensive support mechanism for those businesses. We have now revised our goal to provide grants to at least 200 micro and small businesses."
RISE Grants provide up to $10,000 in recovery funding for eligible businesses. It is now accepting applications from a third group, and the deadline for a fourth group is end-Monday, March 9.
"Grand Bahama's small business sector has endured enormous challenges since the storm," Mr St George added. "We designed RISE to support micro and small business owners with the re-establishment of their operations, to drive economic recovery, and to build resilience and sustainability against future catastrophic events through training.
"The goal is to rebuild a small business sector that is stronger and more robust in the face of the climate challenges that have become our new normal."
RISE said it is attracting an increasing number of applications, and the GBPA/Mercy Corps team will host new information sessions in east Grand Bahama to assist business owners there with submitting their requests. Details on the meeting will be announced at a later date
Pete Sweetnam, Mercy Corps' country director, said: "Teaching businesses how to build a strong narrative with supporting documents, and guiding them on how to validate their need for the award, is critical to the overall success of their application. Mercy Corps and GBPA want to see even more businesses apply for the grants, and, even more receive funding.
"Through RISE, they will receive essential business training and have the opportunity to participate in the Micro Mentor programme for one year free of charge. We all believe that this will add tremendous value and further enhance their operation."
While the retail and services sectors have produced the most applicants to-date, actual grant recipients have emerged from a cross-section of the Grand Bahama economy including maritime, trade services, food and beverage, and technical trades.
Stephanie Ferguson, president of Phoenix Brokerage & Shipping, said: "We would like to thank Mercy Corps and the Grand Bahama Port Authority for granting us the Rise grant. This Grant is a God-send and will assist Phoenix Brokerage with not only rebuilding but to grow our business bigger than it was prior to Dorian."
Captain Patrick Cartwright, owner of Triple-A Boatcare & Maintenance, added: "I would like to thank the RISE and GBPA project team for an expeditious process. The RISE grant has not only opened many doors for me, but it has given me the hope needed to go on."