Subsidies on offer to struggling businesses

Local small to medium enterprises (S.M.E) in Samoa are set to benefit from the Business Link Pacific (B.L.P.) programme with support packages on offer to get them through the looming economic crisis. 

B.L.P. is a private sector development programme funded by the New Zealand Government. 

Enterprises across the Pacific may now apply for its 100 per cent subsidy programme, the value of which is capped at NZD$5000 per business.

The focus of the initiative is to help businesses in the midst of a crisis invest in new means of building their sustainability. 

In the wake of the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) it has increased the range of their support and resources for subsidy programmes to all businesses between 5-50 employees, which are welcome to apply. 

According to Samoa’s Regional Manager for WE Accounting, Tim Naivukedrau, the relief will be felt not only for by clients but all local S.M.E. businesses.

“As a registered service provider for B.L.P., WE Accounting has been assisting existing and new customers applying for a subsidy through B.L.P. which will give them access to WE Accounting's financial and business advisory services,” he said.

He added that the support offered by B.L.P. has been complemented by the accounting firm assisting their customers with business advisory services that can focus on shifting the way they work and do business in a period of immense economic upheaval.

“S.M.E. businesses are the backbone of our economy but because they have greater credit constraints and are more sensitive to weak consumer demand - they are often hit the hardest in economic downturns," he said. 

While local S.M.E.s are struggling from the decrease in demand due to the impact of COVID-19 Mr. Naivukedrau believes that there is a silver lining for all entrepreneurs who find themselves. A large scale crisis is very often a spur for people to move quickly towards innovation across all sectors. 

“There is a good opportunity right now for business owners in Samoa and the Pacific to work on their business continuity plans and implementing resilience measures into the framework of their businesses," he said. 

“Our goal is to move our customers towards accessing new technology, digitising their services and [converting them] to cloud solutions and communications platforms.” 

“Not only will this help them navigate their businesses through uncertainty with minimal losses but also ensure that they are better prepared to face the challenges of future disruptions or crises.”

Small-to-medium enterprises affected by the downturn and which could benefit from initiatives such as the following will be given priority access to the subsidies:

  • Human Resources: impacts on operations; immediate-term health and safety emergency planning; workplace safety; work-from-home strategies; sick-leave and business continuity and remote communications; flexible arrangements, austerity measures, temporary staffing.
  • Business contingency and business continuity planning: mitigation of business interruptions and suspension; off-site relocation risks management strategies, insurance, data security and alternative business income and diversification.
  • Financial planning: cash-flow management; renegotiating finance and loans; long- term financial impact planning; taxation, applying for national governments’ or international relief programmes and funding.
  • Export/Import: supply chain management.
  • Communications and marketing: crisis communications, business interruptions and customer engagement.
  • Digital transformation: new websites, online sales platforms, access to cloud-based solutions for market linkages and communications.
  • Business Coaching: online free consultations on continuity planning, adaptation and mitigation in the face of COVID-19.

Those seeking information about whether their business qualified for the grant programme can seek free services from WE Accounting in Saleufi.

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