The micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) sector is entering a new digital age, Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association (SBA) Dr Lynette Holder has declared.
In an interview with Barbados TODAY in the lead up to the 2022 Small Business Week showcase, she explained that this year’s theme, Exploring The Digital Frontier – The Next Business Revolution, was chosen to coincide with what stakeholders see as a new age of digital progress for entrepreneurs coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are now embracing this digital revolution that is going on and we felt it was ideally [and] timely for us to focus our attention during this week of activities on this disruption caused by digitalisation, and how we can maximise on this within the MSME sector,” she said.
“It is not just appreciating it for the survival of your business – that is not the approach that we want to have – but we want our proprietors to embrace this new way of doing business and look to see in a very proactive way how you can monetise this digital revolution that is going on in your firm.”
The CEO stressed that though it was undeniable that the pandemic caused several disruptions for many businesses across the world, the importance of implementing innovative practices within business plans, regardless of size or target audience, had been brought to the fore.
One local sector that demonstrated a high level of adaptation was the skincare industry, according to the SBA boss.
“Those who are in the agribusiness sector, who traditionally rely on the importation of raw materials for their products… skin care products, beauty supplies, they traditionally had to rely on the imports of raw materials but because of the disruption even in the supply chain, they had to look internally now in Barbados for key inputs in their operations.
“I am pleased, as a result of some of the expos that we organised, the network opportunities that we organised, we were able to see those in the beauty care sub sector bringing to the table products made from a lot of the locally grown items here on the island.”
These raw materials included vetiver grass, better known as cuscus grass. Dr Holder said that during the height of the pandemic, one local business specialising in beauty products used the easily available plant to manufacture a new line of offerings, to much success.
“I think someone who was trained in this science suggested that there was a body of research done already that shows that there are beneficial properties in this particular plant that you could consider for your beautifying products. To me, that was innovative… and as a result, we showcased that particular member at a recent expo, and they are now exporting. They would have reported to us that there was such success with this particular product that they have gotten orders from Europe,” she disclosed.
“If there is one thing that I want our membership and our stakeholders to really take away from this year’s Small Business Week is that business is being done differently post-COVID. It is no longer business as usual. Technology is the game changer. [COVID] has disrupted how business is going to be done going forward and, therefore, you have to adapt to this change.” (SB)