Small Business and Entrepreneurship Minister, Kerrie Symmonds, watches as salt breads are packed at Crumbz Bakery, located in the Pine Industrial Estate. The Minister was joined by Crumbz CEO, Allan Corbin and Managing Director, Curtis Todd. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

Government will be working more closely with the Barbados National Standards Institution (BNSI) to roll out a new framework of standards awareness for the island across all sectors in the coming months.

And, according to Minister of Energy, Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Kerrie Symmonds, the new standards regime to come on stream would give small business operators a “feel” for the requirements and best practices needed to break into international markets.

He made this disclosure while visiting Trust Fund Limited and Fund Access clients and Small Business Association members in Christ Church and St. Michael yesterday.

The touring party, which included representatives from the Ministry, the Small Business Association and the financing agencies, toured Bajan Rum Cakes, Golden Touch Spa, R. T.’s Brewing Company Limited and Crumbz Bakery.

“It makes no sense hoping that we can return to a pre-Covid environment…we must now be prepared to lift all of these products not only on to Barbadian countertops and in their homes, but into Europe, across CARICOM and into the United States and that is the only way in which we compensate for the shortfall in foreign exchange brought about by the tourism situation,” Mr. Symmonds emphasised.

He added that the BNSI’s role as a “critical support pillar of commerce in Barbados” had not been understood and called for a greater understanding of their function in the conduct of business.

“You cannot do business seriously in today’s world unless you are able to demonstrate to people that you are making an effort to reach a certain standard in your business offering…

“It is important that everything we do, be done to a level of excellence which allows not only our Barbadian customers, but the international community to know the quality that we are doing and to be able to place reliance on it and that is where the Barbados National Standards Institution comes in,” Mr. Symmonds underscored.

The Minister also pledged to assist small entrepreneurs with technical assistance in areas such as market intelligence, so that they could learn about the overseas market, the rules governing trade and access into those markets as it relates to standards.

Meanwhile owner of Bajan Rum Cakes, at No.4 Balls Plantation, Christ Church, John Bayne, praised Fund Access for the success of his company.

From left to right: Owner of R.T’s Brewing Company, Raymond Thompson ; Chairman of FundAccess, David Simpson; Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association, Senator Dr. Lynette Holder; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship Minister, Kerrie Symmonds, sample Katspraddle Vodka, which is made from sweet potato. (C. Pitt/BGIS)

He said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a negative impact on his business, with a decline in business performance by 80 per cent. Nonetheless, Mr. Bayne said he was “optimistic” of better days ahead.

“I know we will get back there and over time, we will build back to where we have come from. It is just a matter of holding back a bit, and making the best of a terrible situation,” the businessman said.

Currently, Bajan Rum Cakes are sold in all major supermarkets and are also available in gift and souvenir shops. There are also plans to place the product in more local stores and to export to the island’s main source markets, and Mr. Bayne indicated that he was working to change the business model to get on an e-commerce platform to get the product in overseas markets.

At Golden Touch Spa, in Maxwell Hill, Christ Church, owner, Tiffanie Nurse, showed the team a line of sugar scrubs made from local sugar; body butters and other products.

The Minister commended Ms. Nurse and her team and also participated in a guided session on making the scrubs.

The group also visited R.T.’s Brewing Company, owned by Raymond Thompson and located in Unit 2, Building No.17, Pine Industrial Estate, St. Michael.

Mr. Symmonds was shown bottles of Katspraddle Vodka, made from sweet potato, and heard of Mr. Thompson’s plans to export when he secures funding.

The tour ended at Crumbz Bakery, also located in the Pine Industrial Estate, where the Minister saw the factory operations and sampled the variety of pastries offered.

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