Local business magnate Ralph Bizzy Williams is not convinced that small businesses in Barbados are doing enough to attract foreign exchange for the country.
With that in mind, the entrepreneur has joined forces with Regus, one of the world’s leading providers of flexible office spaces, to help small and medium enterprises to maximize their chances of getting more overseas business and to grow their operations, while earning foreign exchange.
Addressing the official opening of the company at the newly built Welches, St Thomas offices, Williams said after “many months” of negotiation with founder of Regus Mark Dixon, it was agreed that he would be the franchise holder of the company in Barbados and the region through his Williams Offices (Caribbean) Limited operations.
And already, there are plans to have a second location in Barbados by the end of 2017, one in Trinidad and Tobago by year end, as well as offices in Jamaica, St Lucia and Guyana.
“This could provide opportunities for small entrepreneurs all across the Caribbean to have a professional office in a professional environment where they could rub shoulders with people from all over the world from multinational corporations, to exchange ideas and so on,” Williams said.
“A lot of businesses in Barbados do well in Barbados but they are not earning foreign exchange all across the region and outside the region. Our plan is to try to maximize the amount of foreign exchange that we can earn and this is one of the plans for doing that. We want to earn more foreign exchange by far than what we use in our businesses,” The Williams Industries chairman stressed.
Describing the business model as a “promising prospect” for Barbados, Managing Director of Regus (Barbados) Mark Linehan said since opening just over two weeks ago, the reception has been “extremely encouraging” with about 25 per cent of the facility already booked.
The business, which offers office space, meeting rooms, business lounge and virtual office services, consists of 46 offices and 137 workstations. Owners of small and medium-sized enterprises are able to rent the spaces for a minimum of one day and as much as one year at varying rates.
Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs Chris Sinckler said the new business centre would play “a critical and strategic role in helping the local business community to work with regional and global exporting business companies”.
“A lot of businesses start up but they don’t focus on other markets, or markets other than Barbados in terms of helping to earn foreign exchange. And this is absolutely critical because as you know the most important economic variable for us is the foreign reserves.
“Since Government views entrepreneurship as the key for growth, business creation and expansion, employment generation and the mobilization of human resources into productive activity, it is fundamentally necessary for the creation of a vibrant culture to support this,” Sinckler said.
The Minister of Finance added that the new business centre complemented Government’s national strategic thrust “to sustain economic growth and promote the private sector as the leading engine of growth and economic development”.
He said he was pleased that Barbados was selected as the first Caribbean location for Regus, describing it as “a true testament to the appeal of Barbados not just to global brands but to global businesses.
“With Barbados now being part of this massive global network of business centres we can look forward to the businesses, which are a part of the global network, utilizing this centre here at Welches, St Thomas,” Sinckler noted.
Regus operates nearly 3,000 business centres across 120 countries, according to the company’s website.