Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds. (FP)

Minister of Energy and Business Development, Kerrie Symmonds, has described the upcoming Business Fair and Expo as a “wonderful initiative”, which his Ministry will be seeking to build on and stage on a quarterly basis.

Mr. Symmonds expressed this view today, as he addressed a media briefing to discuss the expo, which will be held on Friday, March 25, on the grounds of the Warrens Office Complex, Warrens, St. Michael, from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In highlighting its importance, the Minister stated: “It creates a marketplace for people who had been dislocated as a result of the pandemic….  We can create a marketplace which provides commercial opportunity for small and micro businesses in Barbados, which had been impacted in some circumstances so severely, that nobody came to their doors, or their doors could not open for many months.

“The second thing that this does is to meet businesses where they are…developmentally.  This Ministry as it is now constituted, … facilitates the full range of businesses in Barbados being offered the assistance of the intervention of Government, from the smallest of players right up to the international business sector.”

An energy village, which will include the Division of Energy, will be set up at the expo. And, Mr. Symmonds noted that companies associated with renewable energy would be available to indicate some of the economic and commercial benefits that exist for consumers and business people.

“This business fair is also about highlighting some of the critical issues of the synergies and partnerships that we need to have in this country if we are going to approach the issue of business development seriously,” he pointed out.

Mr. Symmonds said last year, his Ministry was challenged to identify some businesses that should have been able to benefit from the business interruption assistance during the pandemic because their applications could not be validated.

Therefore, he explained, officers from the NIS and Barbados Revenue Authority would be at the fair to share the benefits of being part of the formal system.  

He added that officials from the Customs Department, Labour Department, Fund Access, the Barbados Trust Fund Limited, and financial institutions, among others, would also be present.

“We in Barbados have thrown people into the deep end…. We encourage them to start their own business but we do not dedicate a lot of time and effort to the handholding and the nurturing that must come with the effort, if…we are going to be successful. And that way, I think, is the only realistic way that we are going to avoid continuing to lose so many businesses before the first generation of their existence is over,” he opined.

Minister Symmonds noted that within a short period, some small and micro businesses had moved from incubation to the point where some were at export level, and expressed Government’s commitment to facilitate the environment for growth and continuity.

He pointed out that several small businesses that received business development support from his Ministry’s agencies would also be displaying their innovative products and services this Friday.

During the Business Fair and Expo, there will be music by a popular DJ, and a special guest appearance by RPB. Business owners, potential entrepreneurs, persons looking for investment opportunities, students and other members of the public are encouraged to attend.

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