Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 3rd 2014 Contents A15
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Caribbean Export Development
Agency (Caribbean Export) has urged
the region s private sector to take
advantage of the funds made available
under the direct assistance grant
scheme facilitated by the agency as
part of the regional private sector
development programme (RPSDP)
funded by the European Union under
the Tenth European Development
Firms can apply for grants of up to
€30,000 providing they meet the eli-
gibility criteria, their applications are
accepted and they are exporting or
demonstrate the potential to export
goods and services.
Throughout 2012 and 2013, the
agency has conducted grant proposal
workshops across Cariforum to prepare
BSOs and firms ahead of this current
call for proposals that was announced
on January 17, 2014.
In the previous call for proposals in
2012 the agency received 239 appli-
cations that attained or exceeded the
(Caribean News Now)
Caribbean Export to businesses: Take advantage of EU funding
Anti-government protests in Venezuela
have left some 1,500 trucks that distribute
about half the country s vegetables sitting
idle in the western city of La Grita, wait-
ing for roads blocked by demonstrators
to be reopened.
That paralysis is worsening already acute
shortages of basic foodstuffs and inflation
that hit 56 per cent in 2013, two of the
factors which, ironically, set alight about
a month of street protests in the first place.
At least 17 people have been killed in
unrest that has posed the most serious
challenge yet to socialist President Nicolas
Maduro s ten-month-old administration.
Some transport companies have idled
trucks due to the threat of violence as
protesters face off against security forces
at barricades, especially in the western
state of Tachira. Others have parked their
vehicles in solidarity with the demonstra-
La Grita is a central distribution point
for Tachira state, which produces about
half the fruit and vegetables consumed in
Venezuela, a country of some 29 million
While student-led opposition protests
in the capital Caracas have lost steam this
week, confrontations continue in Tachi-
ra.Business leaders estimate that deliveries
nationwide of basic goods, including eager-
ly sought staples such as toilet paper, milk
and flour, have fallen to about half their
normal level since the start of February
because of blocked roads.
Maduro accuses the opposition of wag-
ing an "economic war" to try to trigger
a coup d etat like the one in 2002 that
briefly toppled his mentor, the late leader
Hugo Chavez. Those turbulent days also
saw a two-month oil industry strike.
In the central state of Carabobo, home
to many Venezuelan businesses, barricades
have also stopped raw materials reaching
factories, and finished products getting
out to customers.
Hoping that an extended national break
for the long Carnival weekend could take
the heat out of the demonstrations,
Maduro declared Thursday and Friday
national holidays too.
Business leaders say that was a mis-
"Six days off work is a delicate propo-
sition, when we look at the empty shelves,"
said Carlos Larrazabal, vice-president of
national business lobby group Fedecama-
"The political decisions the government
are taking are going in the opposite direc-
tion to how we should solve the short-
Venezuela s shopping malls have reduced
their opening hours during Carnival, and
many businesses in the capital Caracas
were closed on Friday, and the streets
The central bank s shortage index, which
tracks the availability of staple goods, hit
a historic high of 28 per cent in January,
meaning three out of ten products were
A woman holds up a banner with a play on the word "calle" that reads in Spanish; "Don't let the streets get quiet," during a rally with
human rights activists, in Caracas, Venezuela, on Friday. The start of a weeklong string of holidays leading up to the March 5
anniversary of former President Hugo Chavez's death has not completely pulled demonstrators from the streets as the government
apparently hoped. President Nicolas Maduro announced this week that he was adding on Thursday and Friday to the already
scheduled long Carnival weekend that includes Monday and Tuesday off, and many people interpreted it as an attempt to calm
tensions. AP PHOTO
Governments and policymakers must encourage
financial literacy among small businesses, remove
uncertainty in regulation and encourage the publi-
cation of more information to enable entrepreneurs
to more easily gain access to new and different forms
of funding, according to the Global Forum for Small
and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs).
The forum was developed by the Association of
Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA).
For its latest policy paper, Innovations in access to
finance for SMEs, the Global Forum for SMEs reviewed
a broad range of innovations aimed at directing more
finance to SMEs---from Alipay in China and Peer to
Peer lenders in the UK, to Kabbage in the US, M-
Shwari in Kenya or Cadenas Productivas in Mexico.
The forum s aim was to find out more about what
factors give rise to financing innovations, what measures
could help them reach more businesses, and what
obstacles are holding them back from their potential.
In a statement, the ACCA said the research looked
at the major trends driving innovation. It found that
businesses and investors have lost faith in banks, while
new capital and liquidity regulations are forcing banks
away from traditional lending to small businesses.
Meanwhile, ultra-low interest rates have sent investors
in some parts of the world looking for better returns
on their money, prompting them to explore new asset
classes such as SME credit, trade credit and early stage
In addition, there has been a rise in e-commerce
platforms and payment systems which are creating
their own financial information; an increase in the use
of real-time information by alternative finance providers;
and online financial intermediation is becoming increas-
ingly acceptable to businesses and investors.
International co-ordination, by the G20 leaders and
the World Bank Group among others, has highlighted
examples of financial innovation in many parts of the
world, drawn attention to common barriers to SME
finance and helped spread best practices.
The forum also identified three types of obstacles
to innovation in SME funding.
First, there is a lack of financial education among
SME owners. ACCA has urged policymakers to recon-
sider their approach to financial literacy, focusing on
a "business plan first" strategy where qualified finance
professionals deliver "just-in-time" training and men-
toring based on the business needs.
Second, there is a lack of appropriate financial infra-
structure from credit databases and payment systems
to asset registries and credit default data, in much of
the world. Making this information public has the
potential to transform intermediation.
Third, there are substantial uncertainties in legislation,
regulation and in accounting rules which need to be
resolved. The most substantial issues highlighted by
the Forum relate to the protection of minority share-
holder rights; the classification of receivables under
accounting rules in multi-lender platforms or supply
chain finance (SCF) programmes; the status of factored
receivables in bankruptcy; the regulatory risk weightings
applied to Bank Payment Obligations, and the regulatory
status of new alternative funding providers.
ACCA: World leaders
must invest in financial
education to help SMEs
Venezuela unrest chokes
transport, worsens economy
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