The Leap2Enterprise programme offered grants to help vulnerable individuals (including the unemployed, disability benefit recipients, and the previously incarcerated) set up businesses. The programme was established in 2018 and operated for one year. It was managed by Malta Enterprise in collaboration with the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (LEAP) and Jobsplus Corporation (the national unemployment agency).
Leap2Enterprise was established to encourage vulnerable individuals to set up businesses by addressing the additional challenges they typically face when raising start-up funding. The grant aimed to help them create sustainable businesses providing them with a long-term livelihood. The national legal basis of this scheme was the “Aid for Disadvantaged Persons to Commence Their Own Business Regulations” (L.N. 66 of 2018).
The Leap2Enterprise programme was designed to support unemployed individuals who were registered with the Jobsplus Inclusive Employment Services Division (under specific conditions) and vulnerable people registered with LEAP (people leaving a correctional facility or rehabilitation centre, recipients of benefits such as unemployment assistance, social assistance, carer’s allowance, or disability allowance). The application process had two steps. First, candidates met with Jobsplus and LEAP for an initial screening. Second, approved candidates submitted a formal application for consideration by a selection committee. The applications were evaluated on the viability of the business proposal (i.e. making a viable business case with commercially viable products or services) and whether the applicant could access the knowledge and skills needed to implement the project.
Successful candidates received grants up to EUR 25 000 to implement their business plan. The grants could be used to acquire or lease equipment, invest in the business premises, purchase stock and consumables required for business operations. Beneficiaries also receive a monthly disbursement capped at EUR 600 per month for a period of 24 months to address daily business costs. Jobsplus, LEAP and Malta Enterprise closely monitored Leap2Enterprise beneficiaries with regular meetings and quarterly reviews, and provided them with technical support and assistance to address bottlenecks. All financial support was conditional on the business remaining active and properly registered and on the project being implemented in line with recommendations provided by programme managers and relevant professionals.
The scheme awarded grants to nine beneficiaries during its one year of operation (the maximum capacity of the programme was ten beneficiaries). A full evaluation of the results of the pilot project is planned but has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Malta Enterprise (2018), « LEAP2ENTERPRISE Scheme », Malta Enterprise, http://maltaenterprise.com/support/leap2enterprise-scheme.
- Personal Communication with Ms Josephine Vassallo Parnis – Head of EU Affairs at the Economic Intelligence, Policy and EU Affairs Unit, Malta Enterprise (21 June 2021).