Stressing that new and emerging sectors would be the key to the expansion of small business, the Minister of Youth Stephen Lashley yesterday defended the record of the Youth Entrepreneurship Scheme.
Speaking during the committee stage of debate on international and small business, Lashley, who is also the Minister of Culture and Sport, noted that within these same emerging sectors he expected the cultural industries to be an area of focus.
“We have placed on the agenda our intention to transform sports into an industry, and when we are talking about small business and enterprise development, we also have to capture into that net the question of how we are going to expand and empower small business particularly in relation to sports development.”
The areas being considered were “very exciting”, the Christ Church West Central MP stated, adding: “These are new areas which we think have got to be put before our young people in order to widen their horizons in relation to the opportunities available to them. Very shortly we will be looking at very intensified efforts in this respect.”
There were a number of areas of assistance as well, Lashley insisted, particularly under the YES programme.
“That programme has been very successful in relation to empowering small businesses and providing technical support to them. In fact the YES programme has been able to grow over the past five years. Some 50 new businesses were created under that programme,” he said, comparing this to the Barbados Labour Party’s 2003 to 2007 administrative period when 41 such new businesses were created.
In addition to the 50 new companies that had been created between 2008 and 2013, Lashley said, “the income generation was in excess of $12 million; the financing was in excess $564,000 and the technical assistance provided amounted $179,662. They also accessed accounting services and marketing services were also provided to these entrepreneurs.”
Additionally, he said 731 juniors and 534 entrepreneurs were trained under the scheme.
“Micro-grants were provided under that programme and the small business development unit, where assistance was provided in many areas. So I am satisfied that we have a structure in place that is working. Let us begin the debate from the perspective of how we can further develop, tweak those systems to the benefit of the emerging focus we need to have…,” he urged. (LB)