Think beyond the box!
Barbados’ small business sector has been put on notice that “the era of digital disruption demands that solutions to age old concerns…be brought to an end”.
Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, has advised those in the sector that the time has come to do things differently.
He made this statement while delivering the feature address during the second annual Small Business Association’s State of the Sector Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre on Tuesday.
The Minister pointed out that even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Government had determined that it had to “deconstruct and reconstruct” the “ancient and archaic systems” of Government administration.
And, with a series of legislation expected to go before Parliament in the coming weeks, Mr. Symmonds gave the assurance that the Liquor Licences Act would be among those up for review.
“That Act is really very outdated, it was tedious, it was cumbersome…,” he admitted. However, under the proposed new system, persons will be able to apply online, pay through the EZ Pay platform using their credit or debit cards or mobile money, in a seamless process before receiving the license in a two to three-day period.
“That is the way in which we want to go. A similar type of disruption must be used as a tool for us to deconstruct and reconstruct processes across the entire length and breadth of the business models and the Barbados economy together,” the Minister stated.
He also issued a similar challenge to the taxi operators across the island who are still “reeling from the punch of the COVID-19-induced decline in travel and tourism”.
Mr. Symmonds described their existing business model of sitting and congregating in a car park at a hotel or at the airport waiting on passengers, as one of their greatest impediments.
Instead, he recommended that operators partner with others in the private sector and make use of technology to develop applications that would allow people to locate and utilise taxi services easier, rather than using their personal vehicles.
Small and medium enterprises understanding the value of standards, especially as they explored moving to an export-ready platform, was also identified by the Minister as an area that needed to be addressed.
Noting that standards must be met to facilitate exports, Mr. Symmonds charged that there was a need to refocus and repurpose the Barbados National Standards Institution. “I have already had discussions with its leadership, and I am happy to announce that they are on board as well,” he noted.
He stressed that there was great value in accreditation and certification, and once Barbados got it right, then it would give a much needed boost to the island establishing a National Quality Policy.
“So that whatever the enterprise is, whether it is food and beverages, you are doing it in accordance with the standard,” he said, noting the aim was to have standards in public transportation, maritime transportation, fashion design, and in salons and cosmetology. The Minister explained that once the National Quality Policy infrastructure was established, then the export potential of firms would stand.
The conference was held under the theme: The Era of Digital Disruption: Thinking Beyond the Box, and is among the activities to mark Small Business Week, which runs from September 20 to 26.