“We will never understand the tremendous contribution that the SIDF is making to the overall development and happiness of our people.”This commendation came from Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas as he thanked the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) during the recent launch of a solar energy farm at the RLB Airport. PM Douglas said the Foundation has been an integral partner in the government’s efforts at energy conservation. “I want to also thank to some extent the SIDF because as we drove ourselves over the last few months to become much more conservation conscious in terms of the utilization of fossil based energy or electricity, it was the SIDF that came forward as a partner to assist in encouraging our own consumers of electricity to conserve. Let us give the SIDF yet another round of applause because we will never understand the tremendous contribution that the SIDF is making to the overall development and happiness of our people,”he said. Over the past few months the SIDF has funded a number of programs aimed at providing technical and financial assistance for citizens in many areas including education, housing and business. In July the SIDF launched the Housing Enhancement Loan Program (HELP) to both empower persons through home-expansion and to spur the construction sector. HELP provides funding up to $100,000 at a fixed interest rate of 5% to eligible applicants who wish to renovate, remodel or extend their dwelling homes. That same month the SIDF expanded its Fund for the Realization of Economic Empowerment through Subsidized Housing (FREESH) initiative which was initially launched in January 2012. The fixed interest rate was lowered from 6% to 5% and the maximum loan amount increased from $400,000 to $500,000. This program targets prospective home owners who are planning to build new residences. The SIDF has also allocated $5,000,000 to the Small Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) project to grant loans ranging from $5,000 to $100,000 at 0% interest rate to finance start-up businesses that have the potential to become profitable. The program was launched in November 2012 in St. Kitts and in January 2013 in Nevis. $5 million US was loaned to TDC for the upgrade of the Ocean Terrace Inn (OTI) hotel. The Foundation also granted the Basseterre High School $1Million to refurbish and renovate the school. The SIDF has provided EC$5,000,000 towards a Student Assistance Fund at the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis to assist local students who are having difficulty getting a loan approved, but who have the necessary qualifications, and a desire of pursuing and obtaining tertiary education. The Foundation has also contributed significantly to various statutory bodies, youth and social programs and other projects including SCASPA, PEP, Agricultural Training for Employment Program and the Agricultural Resource Management Project.