Chamber head pleased with climate-change proposals

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

TT Chamber president Kiran Maharaj – Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Head of the Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce (TT Chamber) Kiran Maharaj is optimistic the local companies that submitted proposals to the Caribbean Climate Investment Programme (CCIP) will be successful.

The programme – a collaboration between USAID and the TT Chamber – aims to mobilise private-sector financing for solutions that advance climate-change mitigation and adaptation goals across the Caribbean.

US$6 million in grants will be made available for small and micro-enterprises (SMEs) willing to aid in the shift to renewable energy in 11 Caribbean countries.

CCIP team lead Federico Fische, speaking at last month’s launch, said the grants will fund SMEs through to the investment phase, while providing advisory services such as developing a business plan, financial modelling, investor-selection negotiation and due-diligence support.

Maharaj told Newsday while she is not on the selection committee, she is happy with what TT companies have put forward.

“I wasn’t in the room for the grant-building exercise, but I have had a lot of conversations with those involved, and based on that, I feel we had a lot of promise inside of that room.”

She expressed her delight at the number of applicants who have developed renewable energy and climate-change mitigation products.

“We have quite a few entities entering that space of a climate-smart solution, not just on the services side but on the other, business side of it within the sector.”

Maharaj said the grant-building exercise allowed several of the companies to forge symbiotic links with possible long-term benefits.

“It was beneficial to see we have companies that can work together collaboratively, in terms of pulling on each other’s strengths and creating synergies to develop stronger proposals.

“We definitely saw it as planting the seed for some ideas to be incubated and then move into the project phase.”

She praised the CCIP, adding that it was a “very significant” step on the road toward a sustainable and environmentally friendly landscape.

“I hope we see more of these projects, because the problem for start-ups and smaller entities, even those that are working in the space and want to pivot, is access to finance. That is the biggest challenge, because the risks are high, so you will find traditional financial institutions don’t want to take those risks. It is still a new space for us, so opportunities and initiatives like this are really important if we want to develop that space.”

The grant application is a two-stage process, with applicants first submitting a concept paper and budget. After evaluating the applications, CCIP will invite qualified candidates to submit a full proposal for a potential grant, capped at US$1 million.

The deadline for submission of concept papers and budgets is March 2024, and applications are reviewed monthly, subject to the availability of funds.