Prime Minister, the Hon. David Thompson

Government is committed to putting in place the legislation, institutional structures and resources, to double the number of entrepreneurs in Barbados by 2016.

This was disclosed recently by Prime Minister, David Thompson, as he delivered the feature address at the St. Mark’s Co-operative Credit Union’s 25th Anniversary Dinner and Awards Gala.

Mr. Thompson said that common sense and objective research indicated that Barbadians had to foster a culture of enterprise if they were to maintain the standards of living to which they had become accustomed.

Noting that the biggest hurdle to the development of business enterprises in the region was access to capital from the traditional sources of finance, the Prime Minister suggested that credit unions could be of assistance in this regard.

He pointed out that the country’s 37 credit unions had total assets of $1 billion and membership of over 278,000, or 47 percent of the population, compared with 33 percent in large, developed countries.

“Credit Unions therefore have the capacity to reach and affect more Barbadians than most other organisations. The Credit Union movement has tremendous potential for impacting the economic fortunes of this country.

It is for this reason that we have identified the people’s credit unions as the appropriate source of funding for the people’s businesses,” Mr. Thompson stated.

The Prime Minister also revealed that the new entrepreneurs government would be looking for would be drawn from different social classes, “simply because the classes from which business entrepreneurs have traditionally been drawn cannot supply them in as great numbers as the nation requires”.

He noted that these entrepreneurs would expect their credit unions to shift their focus from making loans to purchasing consumer goods to financing small businesses.

With respect to the viability of credit unions in the face of increasingly stringent regulations while relying on voluntary labour, Mr. Thompson suggested the use of the “Big Brother” concept. This would result in large credit unions offering advice and other assistance to smaller credit unions.

He also pledged “maximum support to the large credit unions to make them more competitive in Barbados”.

“Ultimately, some form of amalgamation between credit unions, without losing the identity of these community organisations will be necessary,” he pointed out.

The Prime Minister also urged community organisations, like the St. Mark’s Co-operative Credit Union to play a vital role in the Constituency Councils which will be launched later this year.

“These Constituency Councils have, as part of their mission, the achievement of goals that are similar to yours, especially the elimination of poverty in Barbados,” Mr. Thompson said.

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