FOROMIC Conference Aims to Strengthen the Businesses Sector

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Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler. (FP)??

The business sector, which has been identified by economists as the engine to lift countries out of the current recession, will soon be equipped with the tools and the knowledge to assist in the restoration of ailing economies.

The upcoming Foromic conference, slated for October 1-3 at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, will bring together the "best brains in the entrepreneurship sphere" who will discuss a range of issues on micro financing.

During a press conference, this morning, at the Foromic office in Warrens, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, Christopher Sinckler, stressed the importance of the conference and the benefits to be derived as it related to strengthening the sector and creating jobs. "This conference is the single greatest contributor to the intellectual discourse that needs to take place.?? It will also highlight the practical interventions required to sustainably build-out a sustained small, micro enterprise business sector in the region and the hemisphere," Mr. Sinckler underlined.

The Minister also revealed that networking opportunities would be available during the conference for entrepreneurs to build linkages and to enhance the value-added component of their enterprises through the "opening up of markets for our people in the English-speaking Caribbean and the wider Latin America space".

Mr. Sinckler said momentum was building towards the event and he felt assured about a successful outcome. "We are very confident that one month away …preparations are at an advanced stage, and we now see very clearly before us, the practical framework of the conference."??

Even though the event was predicated on the IDB’s Multi-lateral Investment Fund, the Minister of Finance said participation was not limited to IDB officials, but targeted local business owners and investors as well as small business people across the hemisphere.

Apart from the main conference activities, the Minister alluded to one of the highlights- the Barbados and Caribbean Day – which is a gathering of local and regional small business owners, scheduled for September 30.

Under the theme: From Meeting Turn to Finance, Mr. Sinckler said among the activities for that day was a walk through Historic Bridgetown led by Historian, Dr. Karl Watson, which he described as an "ice breaker to introduce participants to Barbados’ rich history". The event will include a Pink Gift campaign in aid of the fight against cancer and the Minister extended an invitation to all Barbadians to come out and support this worthy cause.

The following day, Monday, October 1, registrants will get the opportunity to view a seven minute video produced by the University of the West Indies on micro financing in Barbados and the Caribbean. That event will be addressed by Professor, Senator Henry Fraser, who will showcase the potential spin-off business ventures to be delivered from the UNESCO inscription of Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison.

According to the Finance Minister, during the main session, a number of critical areas will be discussed such as the youth; financing of micro enterprises in cultural industries; financing opportunities and work being done in renewable energy.

There will also be sessions on corporate governance in micro financing; alternative channels for financing; micro insurance business models; challenges and opportunities in the development of small businesses in a number of countries; and financial literacy.

"We are not just looking at what currently exists, but what will take the Barbados and Caribbean economies forward in terms of new areas of business.?? Barbados and the Caribbean are major service-based economies; but we need to break new ground," he explained.

Mr. Sinckler further stated: "We have an exciting and developmental business agenda and I take this opportunity to encourage as many small businesses as possible to register and come to this conference.?? There are many opportunities which you can leave with to ensure that your business gets better… even if it is just the knowledge that you gain from those around the hemisphere… to navigate the pitfalls in business is a critical opportunity that should not be missed."

Other events slated for the conference include a welcome reception at the Four Square Heritage Park, St. Philip and an Oistins Comes to Ilaro Court cultural event which would replicate the popular weekend event on the south coast.

The IDB’s country representative, Joel Branski, spoke to the collateral benefits to the island with the hosting of the conference.?? "First it shows Barbados’ capacity to organise?? large events and secondly, to receive hundreds of visitors from Latin America, North America, Asia, Europe who usually would not come to Barbados for the first time."??

Mr. Branski also said the conference would allow small, micro and medium-sized enterprises to improve their capacity to be innovative, lower costs, and improve their processes.

More than 700 delegates drawn from countries as far as Africa, are expected to be in the island for the event.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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