Head of Management Studies at the UWI, Dr. Justin Robinson (left) and BIDC CEO, Basil Lavine, during the media briefing.
(Image: BIDC)??

The Barbados Investment & Development Corporation (BIDC) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus have joined forces to launch an Export Readiness Training Initiative, a programme which could provide a significant boost for the local export sector.

Officially presented last Thursday at the BIDC’s Pelican House offices, the programme is geared at enhancing the level of export marketing and management expertise available within the ranks of the small and medium sized enterprise manufacturing community.

It is also expected to create a platform to empower the export sector to expand its contribution to national development, employment and the acquisition of foreign exchange.

Speaking during the media briefing, Head of Management Studies at UWI, Dr. Justin Robinson, explained that a major component of the programme would be a diagnostic and benchmarking element, which would force the ??participating organisation "to take a really hard look at itself, to assess its market readiness and how it matches [the] requirements of the external international market".

He said the programme would utilise the FINPYME diagnostic instruments specifically developed by the Inter-American Investment Corporation to assess small and medium-sized enterprises, in order to help them become more competitive and improve their access to potential sources of financing.

Dr. Robinson noted that at the end of the programme, companies would have a better understanding of their deficiencies and "what you as a firm need to do to get up to the level that is required if you are indeed going to be a successful exporter in today’s tough territory.

"We are really hoping that this effort will serve as a catalyst for real decisive action… We really would be disappointed if there are no star exporters coming out of this programme within the next two years," he added.

Recognising that access to funding would be a major determining factor in capacity building for success, the BIDC and UWI are seeking to partner with both the Enterprise Growth Fund Ltd and Fund Access. ??

The reports coming out of the diagnostics on candidates will constitute a substantial basis for more meaningful training and the development of business plans. It should also better position successful graduates to be eligible for financial assistance.

Director of Export Development and Promotion, Sonja Trotman, revealed that the BIDC had shortlisted 25 companies for the programme, and had already received confirmation from 18 companies who were interested in enrolling.

Participants for the training initiative were drawn from the apparel and textiles, printing and publishing, food and beverages, furniture, building materials and agro-processing sectors.

BIDC Chief Executive Officer, Basil Lavine, said while "the BIDC and UWI are committed to ensuring that this is not just another academic exercise, private sector firms must recognise that they also have a critical role to play and must make a dedicated contribution also to ensuring their success.

"We would, therefore, want to encourage companies to recognise the need for greater collaboration and the sharing of information", he disclosed.

The Export Readiness Training Initiative is expected to run for nine months to one year.


Author: Andre Skeete/Jane Broome

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