Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde. (FP)

A recommendation has been put forward for a Seniors Business Trust to be established in Barbados.

Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Cynthia Forde, issued the challenge to the National Assistance Board (NAB) this morning, after viewing the quality of exhibits on display by seniors at the Grand Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre.

She was at the time delivering the feature address at NAB’s Seniors’ Recreational Activities Programme Arts and Craft Exhibition.

“I propose the establishment of a Seniors Business Trust.  We have a Youth Business Trust and there is great quality, but yours is similar or even surpasses some of what we see that is made or produced right here on this island.  I want to recommend that the NAB [work on] it,” she said.

Ms. Forde reasoned that if Barbados established an Elder Affairs Department, then the time had come to take it to the next level.

“It says that all of the skills, the experience and the interest will come together in one place because this is what I call buy local.  What I see here this morning is some of the best quality of handmade craft and expertise, and I know this can go a long way,” she stated.

The Minister also called on officials at the Grantley Adams International Airport to install two showcase windows to highlight the work of the island’s seniors to visitors and locals, and encourage them to purchase some of the items.

“We are talking about business… The Seniors Business Trust would showcase them because productivity, quality, excellence, sacrifice and thrift, are included in this room,” she said.

Referring to the exhibits on display, Ms. Forde said they were testimony to the success of the programme, and the continued productivity and creativity of senior citizens in communities.

There are currently 18 centres catering to 400 elderly persons under the Seniors Recreational Activities programme, which was established in 1990.

Ms. Forde noted that despite its success there were opportunities for further growth and development.  She explained that the new pool of skills, enhanced by computer technology, presented opportunities to establish cottage industries through the creation of linkages, and building of relationships with the tourism sector, the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, the Small Business Association, and other existing entities.

Ms. Forde said the programme has moved from traditional crafts, such as crochet, basketry and embroidery, to soap and jewellery making and other functional products. “You are never too old; age is only a number and you are all aging with grace,” she told those present.

The biennial exhibition will run until Sunday, October 14, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.

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