The eyes of the Americas will be on Barbados next week as it hosts over 1,000 overseas delegates at FOROMIC 2012; a three-day Inter-American Forum on Micro Enterprises, said to be the biggest business conference in Latin America and the region.

This will be the third international conference convened here this year, following on the heels of the Mexico/CARICOM Summit and the United Nation (UN) Sustainable Energy for All symposium, that were held earlier. The latter was a forerunner to the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil – Rio+20.

Barbados stands to benefit, as it is the first English-speaking Caribbean country to host this important business summit, under the aegis of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

From Monday, October 1, several delegates, including spokespersons and representatives from micro-finance institutions, micro-enterprises associations, enterprise development service providers, various chambers of commerce and others from within university circles, will converge on the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre (LESC) and put their collective heads together to address a number of areas central to the development and viability of micro-enterprises. Particularly, they will be exploring innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship.

The planned three days of discussions, which are set against a background of a protracted global recession, will also attract leaders in the area of small business development and micro-financing, and provide opportunities for stakeholders to share ideas and knowledge on best practices and strategies to promote entrepreneurship and economic activity. It will also serve to facilitate networking and business agreements in the sector.

When the participants get down to business in earnest on the second day, they are expected to zero in on a number of pertinent topics such as: Best Financial Practices; Responsible Finance and Social Performance; New Business Models for Micro-Insurance; and Innovative Micro Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) Financing.

Technocrats drawn from the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe, representing agencies such as Fund Access, the World Bank, the credit union movement and the Royal Bank of Scotland, will give presentations during interactive sessions on how enterprises can reposition their businesses to fuel future economic growth.

For instance, on Tuesday, October 2, there will be a panel discussion from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Innovative Models for SME Finance; this will be followed later in the day by a forum on Promising Innovation in Rural and Agricultural Finance and Entrepreneurship Opportunities in Micro financing.

On the final day of the conference, Wednesday, October 3, Cutting-Edge Banking and Access to Finance for Women-Owned SMEs; Innovative Use of Media for Financial Literacy, Learning and Behavioural Change; and Financing Green Entrepreneurs, will be among the areas explored during the plenary sessions.??

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 in the region and the hemisphere.

He also alluded to the networking opportunities that 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”.??

“We are not just looking at what currently exists, but what will take the Barbados and the 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 urge the small business community to attend the conference.?? There are many opportunities which you can leave with to ensure that your business gets better…even if it’s just knowledge that you gain from those around the hemisphere…To navigate the pitfalls in business is a critical opportunity that should not be missed.”

This country’s warmth and hospitality, as well as aspects of the region’s cultural history, will also be on show during the forum, when a?? welcome reception for the delegates and invited guests is held on Monday, October 1, Barbados and Caribbean Day at The Heritage Park, Foursquare, St. Philip.

The following day, the Prime Minister’s Official Residence will provide the perfect setting for a social event, Oistins Comes to Ilaro Court, with the recreation of the Oistins Bay Garden arrangement, complete with other local fare.

Under the theme Unlocking Entrepreneurship: Towards Innovative Solutions, Foromic XV is funded by the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund – a member of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Group and the Government of Barbados.

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