Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, chatting with member of the Steering Committee for the Trust Loan Fund Unit, Erica Hinkson, at the official launch of training for clients of the Trust Loan Fund today. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

The training being provided to clients of the Trust Loan Fund (TLF) Unit constitutes a critical component of a new Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) framework, called SBDC Barbados, which should be launched by mid-March.

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, disclosed this today, at the official launch of training for clients of the TLF Unit, at the headquarters of the Small Business Association.

In explaining the SBDC model, he said it was the preferred method which micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) development would vigorously pursue going forward.

“Essentially, the SBDC Model is a mechanism that applies the resources of government, higher education and the private sector to solve business problems and foster entrepreneurship.  SBDCs are therefore business assistance organizations that promote growth, innovation, productivity, revenue generation, and export facilitation through improvements to the MSMEs business administration,” Minister Sutherland said.

Noting that a National SBDC strategy had been developed by his Ministry together with strategic partners, he added that SBDC Barbados would revolutionize service delivery to all small businesses across the island, so they could become more effective and efficient, while being positioned to seize global opportunities.

The Minister said Government remained committed to the establishment of a new suite of small business initiatives, including the Financial Literacy Bureau (FLB) that is expected to play a major role within the wider SBDC programme.

Stating it was Government’s intention to ensure Barbadians could make sound financial decisions for their businesses, families and communities, Mr. Sutherland added that the FLB aimed to improve individual financial well-being and literacy and would provide the opportunity for businesses to advance in terms of accessing finance.

Clients of the Trust Loan Fund listening attentively at today’s training session at the headquarters of the Small Business Association. (C.Pitt/BGIS)

Telling participants that their major challenge was one of accessing finance, he stressed: “We are here to ensure that come one year down the road, and as soon as six months down the road, when you graduate from this small seed capital of up to $5,000, you would have the capacity and the capability to approach any financial institution as a result of what we will be doing from here onwards.  So, financial education is a core component of the Bureau’s mission. The first of many of the Bureau’s objectives is to ensure that businesses are provided with timely and understandable information to make responsible decisions about financial transactions….

“Some of you are stand-alone entities with only yourself employed in the businesses, but we want to make sure that come two years down the road, you can indeed employ more than two or three persons and indeed that you see the global market place as your romping ground and not just 166 square miles that we live in.  So, we want to provide the capability and the opportunity for you to become export driven, not just operating on these shores.”

Mr. Sutherland also disclosed that from February Government would also be introducing a Community Cluster initiative, as part of the SBDC model, and it would see the lowering of operational and business costs to entrepreneurs, while stimulating innovation and productivity.

According to him, cluster members would be expected to engage in business development training together, share business experiences and opportunities, engage in customer referral practices, form strategic business partnerships and generally seek to trust and support each other as community practitioners.

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