Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, presenting Claire Jordan with an award for her outstanding contribution to small business in St. Peter. (S. Medford/BGIS)

The micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sector will continue to be high on the agenda of Government, given its critical role in the island’s development.

This was emphasized on Monday, as Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland, addressed a forum in Speightstown, St. Peter, entitled Straight Talk – Open For Business, and facilitated by the Ministry’s Small Business Development Unit.

 The forum, which aimed to educate residents and business owners on the role of the Ministry and its intentions during the year-long We Gatherin’ exercise, also sought to outline the benefits that could accrue for small business owners as they push their products and services through investment and export to international markets.

“As a Government, we recognize the importance of this sector to our growth and economic development ….  We believe that this sector, as it has been shown throughout the world, is critical to economic development.  And, when we measure economic development in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) within countries, we recognize that this sector allows for some 40 to 50 per cent of GDP.  So, we recognize the need to empower and enfranchise working class people,” Minister Sutherland said.   

Residents also heard that Government would continue with its drive to create an entrepreneurial ecosystem and to have an entrepreneur in every household.  While Mr. Sutherland pointed out that there was a distinction between a small business and an entrepreneur, he said all entrepreneurs could be classified as businessmen, but all businessmen could not be classified as entrepreneurs.  The entrepreneur, he explained, was differentiated by the need to have innovations; the taking of old and novel ideas and coming up with something fresh to create a competitive advantage, locally and globally.

“That is how we as a country will create our share of the international market by innovation, deconstructing, reconstructing old business models and coming up with new models that can give us the competitive advantage globally,” he stated.

Of his Ministry’s contribution to the We Gatherin’ initiative, the Small Business Minister stressed that amid merriment, Barbadians could expect to hear more on the MSME sector and the role of various agencies as his team continues to move from parish to parish, enlightening them and others in the diaspora.

“We Gatherin’ is not just about having fun and concerts, but critical to this country’s economic development is the need to lure investment to this country because as we recognize that in order to compete on a global scale we need partners, so [you see] the whole aspect of joint ventures and take overs and mergers,” Mr. Sutherland said.

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