Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy (second from right) following the??launch of ‘The Development of Tourism Micro-Projects in Barbados’ with Celeste Foster, President of the Barbados Small Business Association (BSBA)??(third from right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Jose Jorge Saavedra, Senior Private Sector Specialist at the Inter-American Development Bank (right, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, ‘, NULL, NULL, 0); Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Andrew Cox (left) and Lynette Holder, CEO of the BSBA.??

A fund has been created to develop more tourism-related jobs and greater competitiveness in the micro and small business sector.

The Development of Tourism Micro-Projects in Barbados, which was?? launched this morning at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, is a joint venture between the Ministry of Tourism, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Barbados Small Business Association (BSBA), the executing agency for the project.

It will benefit from over US$240 000 in funds from the IDB, under the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund programme and focuses on three areas – agro processing, woodwork and small hotels. The scheme will offer participants within these segments the opportunity to participate in programmes which focus on improving product quality and increasing business capacity.??

Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, lauded the triad of organisations for making the project a reality and agreed that a new era of enterprise needed to be ushered in through cooperation among sectors.

"I am particularly moved by the linkages aspect of this project, as it creates linkages between tourism, agriculture and manufacturing. It has often been a complaint that tourism has always tended to be stand alone, heavily dependent on imports as its key inputs.?? Now we are seeing a project that is, in its very design, aimed at getting the linkages across the other sectors of the economy and I believe that these linkages can provide numerous opportunities," the Minister noted.

IDB’s Senior Private Sector Specialist, Jose Jorge Saavedra, revealed that the project, dated back some three years and was birthed out of the late Prime Minister David Thompson’s desire to see increased national competitiveness and greater support for Small and Medium Enterprises.?? That impetus, he said, had created a project which will capitalise on Barbados’ existing strengths, and identify and rectify its weaknesses.

"The question was how do we use a more comprehensive system to try to link what we currently produce to the export market [tourists] that comes here, in the hope that by them buying our products, it can become more sophisticated and increase demand… One of the key ingredients that we found was the lack of logistics connection between the producers and points of sale.?? It’s not that we have a lack of product, it’s that the products aren’t necessarily distributed in places where tourists will go and buy them. The second [issue] was we need a certain quality, so?? we can assure the tourist that when they buy it, it will be the standard they demand," he observed.

In her address, President of the BSBA, Celeste Foster, stated that the combination of government, a key international financial institution and the local representative body for SME development, was "definitely a stroke of vision, leadership and strategic development" and added that the power of the sector must be acknowledged and its potential realised.

?????????????????? "Researchers continue to prove that the SME sector is the engine of growth for economic sustainability…the Association recognises the need to work assiduously on institutional strengthening of small firms, the repositioning of the way business is done to create sustainable enterprises and the need to be innovative with the creativity that exists among our entrepreneurs.?? We are cognisant that the model of development used in the first 40 years post independence will not safeguard and ensure the quality of life that we have ensured thus far," she added.??

More than 100 micro and small businesses are expected to benefit directly from the 20-month project.?? Specific areas of need will be identified within the three clusters, and appropriate assistance, in an effort to increase productivity and business possibilities.

For further information on the project, persons are asked to contact the Barbados Small Business Association at 228-0162 or 271-1129.??nekaelia.hutchinson@barbados.gov.bb

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