The cover of the National Policy Framework for the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises. (Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development)

A public awareness subcommittee has been formed to disseminate information related to Government’s National Policy Framework for the Development of Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).

Launched last month, the subcommittee is tasked, among other things, to keep the public informed about the policy; suggest a methodology for general information sharing across the MSMEs; develop short-termed strategies; and determine ways to facilitate the forging of improved public and private academic relationships.

Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development (MIICS), Terry Bascombe, in welcoming the committee members, noted the timeliness of the National MSMEs Policy Framework and shared information on its formulation.

Explaining that previously there was no written policy and the sector was guided by an Act for the Small Business sector, Mr. Bascombe said: “Recognising that we needed an explicit policy to guide the work of the Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprise sector, the Ministry solicited the support of the various organisations which deal with the sector and the policy was formulated with the assistance of several stakeholders…”We need to get all players involved.  In small countries, like Barbados, we tend to operate too much in our individual silos, thereby disregarding our interdependence.”

It was also noted that the policy goals aimed to see MSMEs become entrepreneurial in all undertakings; catalysts for human, social and economic development; key drivers of economic growth, as well as enablers of social stability.

Emphasising that these were guiding principles for MSME development in Barbados as a whole, he said, of the first goal, that earlier discussions with Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, and others had elicited a general concern that we needed to develop an entrepreneurial class in Barbados.

“There is an argument that the country lacks an entrepreneurial class and I am aware that efforts have commenced from the side of this Ministry to move towards a system of developing this class in Barbados,” Mr. Bascombe stressed.

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Of the other goals, the Deputy Permanent Secretary added: “There is also a requirement for MSMEs to be catalysts for human, social and economic development and we see those words almost in every document that we read that relates to MSMEs. It is important for them also to be key drivers of economic growth, especially for small countries like Barbados with limited financial resources and limited natural resources.

“There is a strong argument out there by practitioners, academics and the like, that one of the ways in which we can drive economies such as ours is to develop our MSMEs. And, of course, once we do that, it is part of an overall business network within the economy and should, therefore, add to social stability because it involves mobilising people and mobilising ideas.”

The National Policy Framework for the MSMEs is expected to greatly assist in facilitating the attainment of five major national goals for the sector. These are: increased export development; internationalisation of MSMEs; development of a cadre of innovative MSMEs; increased employment generation; and increased efficiency and productivity among MSMEs.

Elaborating further, the economist added: “So we are talking obviously about developing an enabling business environment, facilitating the development and sustainability of our macro economy, increased international competitiveness – competitiveness now is a buzz word on the lips of everyone that speaks; energy security and efficiency, technology-based society, sustainable growth and development being the ultimate objective of the initiative.

The policy is also established on four thematic pillars – a legislative, regulatory and business support framework; access to finance; market access competitiveness and productivity; and the development of entrepreneurial skills, knowledge and competencies through education and training.

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Emphasising that the island is open to regional and international input relating to this new policy framework, Mr. Bascombe said: “You know we have to fit with the regional and international framework and therefore the policy addresses matters at these two levels… for example, what is the role of the CSME [CARICOM Single Market and Economy] in facilitating regional development in the MSME sector and issues related to special development sectors like agri-business, creative industries and renewable energy – those are the topical issues.

“Likewise, wellness, sports and community tourism will also be associated with the strategy, as well as special development groups like women, youth, community-based entrepreneurs and persons living with disabilities. As we know, all persons have a role to play in developing the MSME sector.”

The possible contribution of the Barbadian Diaspora; encouragement of a culture of innovation; the role of science and technology; research and development and the role of intellectual property were also touted as important in developing any sort of business enterprise in contemporary society and in facilitating the MSME development.

The public awareness subcommittee is one of five established to formulate a strategy for the implementation of the policy. The other committees are: Institutional Framework; Internationalisation of MSMEs; Human Resource Development; and Business Development.

The public awareness subcommittee comprises personnel from the MIICS, G4S; Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme; the Barbados Government Information Service; Trident 10 TV; Orinje Nation; the Caribbean Media Corporation; the Barbados Community College and the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation. Its chairman is Maria Boyce-Taylor.

The Ministry anticipates that this communication arm will put in place a strategy to properly inform the public on the work of the several committees, as well as the National Policy Framework.

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