The We Gatherin’ initiative, which launched in the island’s northernmost parish took an entrepreneurial turn Friday as business support organisations met St Lucy entrepreneurs.
Business development officials got a first-hand knowledge of the kinds of businesses operating in St Lucy, while the businesses received a first-hand knowledge of the support services available to them.
As part of the We Gatherin’ exercise, the Parish Organizing Committee in association with the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) organized a We Gatherin: Open for Business tour in the parish.
The main aim of the tour was to provide an opportunity for officials of the business support and development agencies within the SBDC to get familiar with the range of businesses operating in the parish, and let the firms know about the services available to them within the SBDC network.
The tour consisted of several Trust Loan Fund workshop attendees, who received tips from the business operators, as they get ready to embark on their entrepreneurship journey.
Coming out of the business tour, officials said they are also hoping to develop policies and future programmes to help the businesses.
As the tour ended at the Star Chick poultry processing plant, chairperson of the SBDC, Senator Lynette Holder, said she was satisfied with the range of businesses operating in the parish.
The touring group visited more than six businesses, which included some informal operations.
Holder said it was found that those informal operations needed access to capital to help formalize their operation and help with their marketing strategy, while the more established firms needed to consider exporting their products and services.
She said: “It is no longer just about the domestic market, but to consider with the various trade arrangements being looked at by our Government, in particular the African continent, to take our goods now to a new market.
“They may want now to consider export strategies.
“We think that seeing a wide range of firms at different levels in their business cycle would help us clearly to identify what are the kinds of solutions that they need and we are satisfied that within the Small Business Development Centre, we have a good cadre of business support organizations that can help the firms from informal stage to internationalization of their business.”
Describing the event as a success, Holder pledged that after the We Gatherin’ exercise comes to an end in December, the SBDC would continue to strengthen its relationship with firms across the island so they can continue to grow.
Sales and Distribution Manager of Star Chick Ltd., Nicole Novelle, said the tour brought a greater level of awareness to the businesses in St Lucy.
Noelle said: “People think that St Lucy does not have a lot to offer.
“They think the big companies are in Christ Church and St Michael, and they sometimes forget that the best things come from the country.
“So the parish needs some more advertising.
“I am glad we have the We Gatherin’ because that gives St Lucy [the exposure].”
Anderson Cumberbatch, Chief Advisor of Business Development in the Ministry of Small Business, said that coming out of Friday’s exercise, officials would now look to develop necessary policies to further help the businesses flourish.
Cumberbatch said: “We saw some very interesting things happening in the sector.
“From a ministry’s perspective we are very willing to assist these small businesses to export.
“These hidden gems must be exposed to the wider market.”
Parish Organizing Committee Projects Co-coordinator Janice Springer said she was satisfied that strong linkages had been formed between the SBDC network and the firms in the parish.
“We are hoping that as we end the project in September that we would have some sort of sustainability. This is exactly what I was looking for. I must say that today was a success,” said Springer.
The next We Gatherin: Open for Business event for the parish will be a market day on Saturday, January 25, at the St Lucy Parish Church.