As the territory continues to face economic challenges related to the coronavirus pandemic, leaders are tapping into international aid.

On Monday, the government announced that the United Nations Development Programme would offer $40,000 to “jump start” 10 restaurant businesses in the territory “and equip them with the tools to transition from a face-to-face business model to a digital modus operandi.”

The funding might go toward the purchase of food and cleaning supplies; paying employees; procuring biodegradable containers; creating websites or apps to facilitate online ordering, delivery and payment options; or streamlining financial operations, according to government.

The UNDP is also at work on an assessment of the pandemic’s economic damage in the region.

The Human and Economic Assessment of Impact will be released sometime this week on the UNDP website, according to UNDP sub-regional programme assistant Tamaisha Eytle.

Ms. Eytle also said eligible businesses for the VI grants will be defined by the government and chosen by a technical team from the government and the UNDP.

Programme launch

The initiative here is part of the UNDP Barbados and Eastern Caribbean’s Economic Recovery Programme, which was announced on April 30 in response to the severe financial impacts of Covid-19 in the region.

The UNDP has raised a total of $1.19 million to support seven countries and territories, including the VI, but still plans to mobilise an additional $6.74 million, according to the programme’s website. The first “pillar” of the programme targets the socioeconomic impact of the crisis across the seven countries and territories, the site stated.

“As tourism has come to a standstill, the direct and indirect source of over 40 percent of gross domestic product and of 25 percent of the private sector jobs are at serious risk,” a Monday press release stated. “As a global pandemic that threatens to profoundly deepen disparities and undo progress on sustainable development more broadly, Covid-19 is already taking a heavy toll on individuals, families, communities, businesses, economies, governments and infrastructure.”

The goals of the regional programme include creating “multi-sectoral frameworks” which include assistance for re-opening economies and strengthening health systems in coordination with the Pan American Health Organization.

Ms. Eytle said resources for the programme come from the main donors to the UNDP: Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Denmark, the United States, Ireland and Qatar.