If everything goes according to plan, a database to monitor the performance of the local small business sector could be set up as early as next year.

This has come out of discussions between the Barbados Government and a Business Consultant with the UK-based Commonwealth Secretariat, Viswanath Anand. He began the first day of talks yesterday with public sector officials and entrepreneurs on issues affecting the sector. The discussions are expected to conclude this Friday.

The Ministry of Trade’s Chief Business Development Officer, Francine Blackman, said: “The proposed database project is the main component of the Caribbean SME-ICT Competitiveness Development Programme, which is aimed at improving the competitiveness of the small and micro business sectors through information sharing.” To ensure a smooth implementation phase of the project, Ms. Blackman has urged both government and non-governmental agencies to co-operate in this regard.

“It will be critical for each agency to insert the information regarding the small businesses with which they interface, into the database in an on-going manner,” she stressed.

Ms. Blackman said the database would assist in the collection of data, using on-line paper based surveys which would reduce the cost of gathering information on the sector, and would enable companies to generate more business by matching their capabilities with market opportunities.

It is envisaged that it would also manage loan portfolios and identify the defaulters; pinpoint potential networking opportunities and joint ventures to increase the competitiveness of small businesses; keep up-to-date statistics; and manage a diary of activities and assistance provided to companies.

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