Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland and Caribbean Development Bank President, Warren Smith, listening to a presentation at the Small Business Association’s State of the Sector Conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre yesterday. (GP)

With Cabinet having given approval to reconfigure the National Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) programme, it will soon be relaunched “with the intention of carving out a new space for MSME development in Barbados”.

Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, revealed this on Tuesday at the start of the Small Business Association’s (SBA) State of the Sector Conference as part of Small Business Week 2019, at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, Two Mile Hill, St. Michael.

 He noted that the SBDC would, among other things, give greater leverage to creating a new national business cluster development strategy to be executed within the urban and rural communities.

Adding that it would facilitate a more cohesive and improved MSME sector in a way never experienced before, he said: “This SBDC framework will promote a culture of business and entrepreneurial excellence allow for the standardization/streamlining of business support services.  It aims to create an improved operational framework by facilitating operational efficiencies and promote a culture of increased exports through cross-border collaboration.

“This SBDC framework will facilitate the sector’s increased contribution to national development and it will mitigate many of the existing challenges associated with the duplication of business support services; allow for the effective coordination of resources, including human, financial and technical resources at the agency and industrial levels.”

While pointing out that the SBA was one of the key players within the framework, Minister Sutherland announced that Senator Lynette Holder, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of the SBA, would be chair of the steering committee and would be responsible for building out the MSME sector.

Adding that other key players would include the SJPI, UWI and BIDC and there would be partnerships with FundAccess and Barbados Trust Loan Ltd, he told business owners gathered at the conference: “These partners, along with the SBDC, will form the framework to implement the action plan to further build out the MSMEs, with you playing your role.”

Minister Sutherland also noted that an MOU between Government and the OAS would serve to advance the work of the SBDC. And, he reiterated the importance of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to the MSME sector, noting that already Government had a system called Neoserra, where everything would feed into it.

“An ICT platform is critical for us to build out our MSME enterprises, and more importantly for us to go beyond these 166 square miles,” he stressed.

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