If Government is unable to solve problems in the small business sector with relation to funding, free movement and the general cost of doing business, then it could spell disaster for areas like the creative sector.
St. Michael South East MP, Santia Bradshaw, in debating the International Business head in the House of Assembly yesterday, told members that the majority of issues facing small business enterprises were in relation to funding.
Beyond needing more money in the sector, Bradshaw, who is herself an entertainment entrepreneur as well as a lawyer, stated that even when there was money, entrepreneurs had difficulties accessing the funds.
“Oftentimes the persons whom you approach for the funding apart from being particularly partisan, in a lot of cases persons are not aware that the funding actually exists in the particular sector. You also have a situation where some of the people you approach for funding at the various agencies don’t in some cases understand a number of the small business enterprises.
“In … areas like the creative industries, a number of people have difficulty understanding the concept of an artist being able to move their products and their services and trying to sell their services, not only locally, but regionally and internationally.
“So we have significant difficulties at the technical level where we are trying to approach persons for funding but the very technical persons whom we are approaching oftentimes do not understand the particular sector that they are dealing with.
“I would say that we can spend a lot of time discussing these heads, but if we don’t solve the problem with respect to access to funding, a lot of the ideas and the concepts and the great ideas that we are having here will never have the intended effect that we want on the people of this country,” said Bradshaw.
Even as the Government touted the success of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme, the MP said while she had no problem with the fact that it was training young entrepreneurs she took issue with the decline in the number of businesses due to their inability to access funds.
There were a number of funds created under the Barbados Labour Party, the Opposition MP stated, that could have been approached for things like recording songs, recording and marketing videos, creating music videos and films.
“The fact is that all of these things generate employment in this country, all of these things I have had direct interaction with and I can tell you that apart from being able to see our artists displayed on film and in the music arena, we have had the opportunity through a number of those incentive programmes, particularly grant funding to allow our cultural entrepreneur to export their products beyond Barbados and that has the potential for this country to generate significant foreign exchange earnings.
“Unfortunately, whilst the DLP has gone to great length to speak about creative industries, it has not been able to articulate a clear policy on how the entrepreneurs in this country are in fact benefitting from any of the incentives they speak about and I have seen the decline of a number of businesses in this country as a result of the difficulties with accessing funding, as a result of the difficulties of accessing airlift to other Caribbean countries as well as the increase in the cost of doing business in this country as well.
“If we are unable to address a number of these issues, not only do the creative industries suffer for it, but all of the sectors, the hairdressers, nail technicians, all of the small business entrepreneurs who rely on grant financing and venture capital have in recent times been unable to access this funding,” maintained Bradshaw. (LB)