Australia allocates $20.5 million for SMEs



Thursday, September 27, 2007
Australia allocates $20.5 million for SMEs
By Ben O. Tesiorna

THE Australian government through AusAID has allocated $20.5 million
to help small businesses in the Philippines, in a bid to eliminate
poverty.

The AusAID's Enterprise Challenge Fund for the Pacific and South-East
Asia aims to stimulate growth and ensure that the poor are included in
the benefits and opportunities provided by that growth and to provide
access to employment and markets, which is vital to generate a
sustainable reduction in poverty.

The white paper "Australian Aid: Promoting Growth and Stability"
strongly emphasized the private sector as a driver of growth and it
foreshadowed the development of a pilot program to support private
sector-led growth.

Through open competition, grants of $100,000 to $1.5 million will be
awarded to business projects with pro-poor outcomes that cannot obtain
financing from commercial sources.

At least 50 percent of the project cost must be met by the partner
business, and all projects must be commercially self-sustaining within
three years.

The ECF was launched last July in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, eastern
Indonesia, and the Philippines.

The first round of grants awarded in early 2008. ECF rollout to
Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Cambodia, Laos and East Timor will follow in
early 2008.

Jason Magnaye, ECF-Philippines country manager, said they will be
holding a press conference on October 4 at the Marco Polo Hotel in
Davao City to explain more about the project. He described it though
as a new, innovative opportunity for businesses to develop a
commercially sustainable business enterprise whilst contributing to
poverty reduction.

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