16 months into the pandemic, the Maltese government is upping the game in terms of financial assistance being providing to Maltese companies and local entrepreneurs.
Since the pandemic hit Maltese shores, domestic businesses have been benefiting from one of the most effective financial assistance packages across the European Union. The flagship support scheme being the wage supplement managed to suppress the initial fears of unprecedented unemployment. Indeed, the Maltese labour market enjoys the lowest levels on unemployment across the entire Eurozone.
This assistance was flanked by direct financial payouts that covered critical operating expenses such as rent and electricity costs whilst also allowing for the voluntary suspension of loan repayments during months in which sales and revenue streams were significantly curtailed.
The ultimate objective of this financial support was to ensure that local businesses would be able to survive the worst months of the pandemic. All this allowed Maltese companies, across different sectors to retain their employees whilst they managed their cash flows. This proved essential for Maltese businesses to rapidly return to normal operations immediately following the easing of COVID-related restrictions.
Beyond this ongoing assistance, Enterprise Minister Miriam Dalli announced two additional support measures that marked an interesting evolution in the kind of assistance being offered to local businesses; a move that shifts the focus from survival-driven support to growth-oriented incentives.
A shift in focus from survival-driven support to growth-oriented incentives.
This is part of a €20 million financial package announced back in April that is intended to support Maltese companies to emerge even stronger from the pandemic and accelerate their transformation towards leaner business models.
The Change to Grow incentive scheme is aimed at assisting Maltese companies to literally change and improve the way they operate to ensure that they can better compete and grow in a post-pandemic commercial environment.
This incentive will allow SMEs including micro companies to engage with professional consultants to get the required insight on how they can improve their business model. Whilst Malta Enterprise used to offer this kind of incentive in the past, the scheme is now being taken to an even higher level as Maltese companies will now be able to apply for financial assistance that will cover up to 75% of the actual implementation costs of the investments needed to comply with the advisors’ recommendation.
The idea is to assist Maltese companies to step up their game and actually implement the investments needed to ensure their long-term growth.
The second incentive is aimed at reinvigorating the entrepreneurial mindset of those business owners who were forced to close down their commercial activity due to the pandemic. As the name suggests, the Restart incentivescheme allows the hardest hit business owners to seek professional advisors who could handhold and assist these individuals into rebuilding their businesses into ventures which can better compete in the new normality.
The financial assistance will not just cover the provision of professional advice but will also be doubled to €10,000 in order to cover costs relating to renting of new premises, marketing of these new operations and recruitment services of new personnel, all key essential requirements for any new business venture.
These initiatives represent an innovative approach into assisting Maltese businesses at this important juncture in the economic cycle of our economy. As Malta is reopening for business, the country needs to ensure that local companies are well prepared to face the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead. In order to be sustainable, Maltese business models need to become more agile and more visible to a wider, more demanding client base.
These incentive schemes allow Maltese companies to leverage on their past successes and the inherent experience achieved through the years to build-up resilience and growth for the future.