by Lashawna Griffith
The island’s small businesses will be the main driver of the Government’s economic recovery plan, says President of the Small Business Association (SBA) Dean Straker.
“At this particular juncture of our history, Barbados now finds itself having to press the reset button in 2018. I am confident when I say to you that our small businesses will be the singular most important plank in the recovery and transformation of our economy,” he told a church service this morning to launch the SBA’s week of activities at First Baptist Church, Constitution Road, St Michael.
Straker stressed that history has proven that “small business has led developed nations out of major recessions,” assuring that players in the local sector were more than ready to play their part.
He added that the sector was already making a significant contribution to efforts to turn around the ailing economy, citing its role in preparing the nation’s youth to enter the world of business.
“Whether it be taking one of our management or computer courses offered at the SBA training Centre or participating in competency-based training where participants attain the National Vocational Qualification better known as NVQ which is accepted in the region and internationally.”
The SBA president however told the gathering that Government could empower small business to play a greater role by establishing an agency to tackle the long-standing impediment of securing start up capital without the usual hassles.
“The Government must identify the agency that will provide startup funding at low-interest rates and remove the bureaucracy and delay tactics that are associated with lending institutions.”
He suggested that the SBA was willing to ensure its members adhere to certain conditions once they benefit from the preferential rates.
“We understand with preferential interest rates there will be conditions and one of these conditions could be the enrolling in the business and management courses being offered by the SBA,” he said.
Straker was confident that once the issue was urgently addressed, the country would almost immediately see the benefits.
“The sooner Government can provide access to startup funding the sooner we will see the creation of new jobs and opportunities for Barbadians,” he insisted.
The uplifting service, which lasted three hours, started with a call to worship session in which the members of the SBA, as well as the congregation, sang up-tempo worship songs backed by the First Baptist Band.
The organization was also lifted in prayer by Pastor Paul Leacock who advised them not to copy the practices of their foreign counterparts, but to develop indigenous, unique products and services for the island.
“I want to encourage you as I pray for you to please do not copy the American economy, please do not try to be the SBA of the United States. Please do not try to copy the ways of the UK and Australia.
“What is it that you have given us as a Barbadian people? What is it that we have in our hands that can make us succeed? What is unique about us is what we can harness and pour into those businesses,” Leacock said.
The SBA officials were treated to a well-executed dance by the members of the First Baptist Church in which the dancers waved purple and gold flags.