Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, speaking at the start of Ten Habitat’s Caribbean Summit at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Holetown, St. James. (S.Medford/BGIS)

Local and regional entrepreneurs have been urged to view lip-service as an unnecessary evil that would only lend to the demise of meaningful efforts to transform the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.

This appeal came last Friday from Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, as he addressed the start of Ten Habitat’s Caribbean Summit at Limegrove Lifestyle Centre, Holetown, St. James.

Minister Sutherland said the perennial mind-set of size being an inhibitor to regional growth and the leveraging of meaningful global trade opportunities must be rubbished as merely a thought that has to be urgently rid from our psyche if strides towards real entrepreneurial progress are not to be stymied in any way.

“Size is not an inhibitor; we are small, but we are powerful,” he stressed, while disclosing that Barbados was moving shortly to address this, with his ministry seeking to reconfigure and re-launch its Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) framework, under which micro, small and medium-sized enterprises develop.

“In other words, this silo approach to entrepreneurship and small business must stop.  We must have a more collaborative approach to entrepreneurship, and it must create the framework whereby we feed into one database,” he noted.

Explaining further, he said government’s mission and mandate was to, through this SBDC model, create small business development centres using academia and various institutions, such as Ten Habitat, as partners to feed into the database.

“We are not asking you to tell us how much money you make on a daily basis, but we are asking you to give us the information as a government, as a policy setter.  So, we can indeed gauge how we are developing and how you are contributing…not just the dollar value of jobs, but how you are training the people and how you are developing the young people.

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“So, the success of the SBDC model will therefore require a change of mind-set and operational focus as constituent business support organizations (BSOs) underscore the importance of positively collaborating to ensure mutual success for the entrepreneur and the BSOs alike,” he pointed out.

Acknowledging that entrepreneurship remained the engine of growth of the modern economy, Mr. Sutherland said: “My ministry stands ready to see the embattled entrepreneur past these challenging times, and to view your reality as merely a temporary distraction for which remedy is never beyond your grasp.  So, we will therefore continue to create the type of enabling environment which will allow the entrepreneur to seize the myriad opportunities that can be leveraged through the roll-out of the many visionary policy prescriptions undertaken by this government, and you will continue to be the focus of our every effort.”

Founder of Ten Habitat, Selwyn Cambridge, in echoing similar sentiments, said: “There has never been a better time to be an entrepreneur than today. Technology, access and ideas have opened up unimaginable possibilities for dreamers, the risk takers, the innovators.  There has also never been more of a time for change and the way we do business than now. Today our sons and daughters must be able to dream like Rihanna, and know that it is possible right here.

“They must grow up benefiting from a business support system which embraces exploration, experimentation and investment in ideas; so this is the time we stop thinking small; this is the time we stop seeing our tiny markets, as ‘the market’.  The world is our oyster and ours for the taking.  Let’s go get it, together.”

The Caribbean Start-up Summit is an initiative of The Entrepreneurial Network (TEN) Habitat that brings together a global network of industry experts and founders to share insights and experiences with the Caribbean. It was held under the theme: Mindset, Skillset, Reset.

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