There is much to learn from the African Diaspora vis-a-vis national development and business opportunities, and Minister of Labour, Senator Dr. Esther Byer Suckoo, has lauded a recently held forum for contributing to this endeavour.

She made these comments as she addressed the inaugural Business-to Business (B2B) Forum, part of the 15th International Academy of African Business Development (IAABD) Conference, on Tuesday evening at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus.

She explained that the Barbados Government had articulated a Growth and Development Strategy, which is being implemented over the period 2013-2020.

She said that it was aimed at adjustment, reform, recovery and sustainability and that ???a key part of the reform and recovery strategies will require the building of the capacity of our human capital, and the development of stronger strategic alliances between private and public partners locally and internationally, with other global partners???

???It is for this reason that I fully support the convening of this conference, since many of the strategies which our counterparts in the African Diaspora adopted to move many African countries from dire situations of poverty to strong, competitive economies may be relevant to us here in Barbados,??? she surmised.

The Labour Minister further observed that the topics addressed during the conference and the B2B segment would ???provide insight into areas such as marketing and consumer behaviour, entrepreneurship and small business development, human resource management, accounting, finance and investment and exporting???, with lessons learned in various sectors, such as agri-business, to be shared.

Speaking about her Ministry???s ongoing efforts with the Human Resource Development Strategy and its contribution to national development, Senator Byer Suckoo noted that the Strategy would seek to facilitate the development of highly-skilled researchers, entrepreneurs and innovators.

She added that Government would also seek to facilitate entrepreneurship education at all levels, provide for business incubation, and encourage research.

???We are, therefore, very appreciative of the efforts of the University of the West Indies, to seek to respond to the Human Resource Development Strategy through a series of initiatives aimed at expanding the relevance of the research agenda, and to ensure that it provides more applied research.

???We are mindful that culture plays an important role in the effectiveness of any transformational change and since the University has already identified notable synergies between the African culture and the Caribbean culture, it is useful to research the African business development success stories and lessons learnt,??? she said.

Dr Byer Suckoo noted that the overall theme SME Development Experiences: Experiences learnt from the Africa Diaspora, was important as discussion on business development was initiated.

The forum was designed to encourage networking with a view to building strategic linkages, and to provide the opportunity to explore alternative styles of leadership and business development in regions which share some commonalities with the Caribbean region.

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