Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce, George Hutson

While the development of the small business sector in Barbados is vital in the fight against poverty, a Government Minister is urging all stakeholders to “buy into” entrepreneurship as both an employer and as a means of improving the island’s economic status.

Minister of Trade, Industry and Commerce, George Hutson, said any poverty alleviation strategy employed by technocrats in Barbados in the future, must be “bold and unapologetically-fuelled by such interventions that encapsulate the willingness to take risks,” he said.  “If this strategy is at all viable, there must be a buy-in at every level within the economy, to the extent that the necessary adjustments are made to various pieces of legislation that impact on how business is conducted going forward.”

The Minister also suggested that “there must be a buy-in at the level of our education policy at all levels – primary, secondary and tertiary.  There must be a buy-in at the level of all government departments and all areas of society,” he said.

Mr. Hutson made these disclosures today during the official handing over ceremony of the National Strategy for the Development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Sectors document at the Ministry. It was compiled by Consultant to the Commonwealth Secretariat, Vishwanath Anand, and lists a number of recommendations including the establishment of a policy resolution on the development of the micro, small and medium sized enterprises sectors; identifying the distinctions between a small business and a micro-enterprise;  the establishment of business clusters in existing industrial estates, with priority given to new entrants; the implementation of a collaborative study on the cost of doing business in Barbados; and utilising  the Pelican Craft Centre as the pilot project to better understand and address the difficulties being encountered by the entrepreneurs.

He said the programme, initiated in July, 2004, is part of a wider Pan-Caribbean Small and Medium Enterprise Information Communications Technologies (SME-ICT) Programme of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation.  It was launched in response to a request for technical assistance from Caribbean member Governments in the area of SME-ICT Development. 
Conducted in two phases between January 2005 and March 2007, it covered Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica, St. Kitts Nevis and St. Lucia in phase one.

Phase two of the programme, which began in March 2007, included an ICT sector development strategy for St Vincent and the Grenadines and a SME development strategy for Guyana and Barbados.

Mr. Hutson pointed out that the programme was in keeping with the Commonwealth Ministerial Group on Small States’ mandate, which seeks to improve the region’s capacity to produce competitive goods and services.

He urged stakeholders to embrace the initiatives with tenacity. “Within my Ministry, I can assure you, that it will not be business as usual. So, I therefore want to encourage all of you to pursue the adoption of these strategy initiatives with the same tenacity that we will,” he declared.

Mr. Anand, in his overview of the study, called for greater dialogue with banks to provide more financing for entrepreneurs. “I think that we need to have a dialogue with banks as to what are their constraints, perceptions, misconceptions as to why they do not look favourably at small and medium enterprises,” he added.

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