Operators in the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) sector are one step closer to having a number of their concerns addressed.
It was in February this year that Government approved a newly developed National Policy Framework that, among other things, aims to provide a new definition of the sector and provide guidelines on a range of matters including access to finance, forming of closer links between business support organizations, and market access.
Officials from the Ministry of Industry and Small Business Development recent met with stakeholders including a number of the island’s business support and development agencies, non-governmental organizations and related Government departments in order to discuss the new framework in an effort to get feedback.
Chief Business Development Administrator with the Ministry Anderson Cumberbatch said coming out of that meeting on Wednesday a new committee would be formed to make any necessary tweaks.
“Coming out of this we are going to develop a national strategy for the sector in terms of how we actually roll out the [policy] now because that is where it is critical. So the policy sets the broad framework in terms of the approach we are going to be looking at. But now we are going to have to develop a national strategy in terms of those specific things we want to do, in terms of how do we prioritize the rolling out of those strategies,” explained Cumberbatch.
“We now have a mechanism where we are going to be working together. We are following the U.S. model where we have the small business development centre model, which allows Government, private sector and the university to work together to facilitate this process,” he added.
It is hoped that the new development policy, which was first announced in June 2015, would help to further develop the small business sector here. The policy was developed following a review of the MSME sector.
The policy, which was developed following a review of the MSME sector, should also provide for officials to better measure the sector’s contribution to the economy as well as other statistics relating to the sector.
The Small Business Development Act is also to be replaced by a Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Act, which a working group is currently working on and is expected to complete within the next month.
Currently, under the Small Business Development Act, a small business is defined as a company with more than 75 per cent of its shares locally owned; has capitalization of less than $1 million; has less than $2 million in annual sales and has less than 25 employees.
Executive Director of the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) Carlos Wharton said he gave the new development policy his full backing, adding that it would be critical especially in the area of enhancing market access, productivity and competitiveness of Barbadian firms.
Predicting that royalties for local businesses and individuals would play a major role in the country’s foreign exchange earnings in the future, the international trade specialist said the idea of pushing more Barbadian products in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is important.
“I think we need greater information sharing from our regional institutions and our international institutions,” he said, while calling on the technocrats to also include the Barbados Private Sector Association in their deliberations and decision-making processes.