The path to export has been made much clearer for participants in the National Cultural Foundation’s (NCF) highly informative Accelerate to Export Symposium 2022 for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the creative sector.
Staged by the NCF’s Business Development Department at the Courtyard by Marriott late last year, the event targeted artisans in three burgeoning sectors of beauty, spa and wellness, the home and accents segment, as well as fashion and accessories.
In her welcome remarks, NCF Chief Executive Officer Carol Roberts-Reifer touted the importance of the symposium in preparing creatives in these sectors to achieve the ultimate goal of having their products and services in demand and available in regional and international markets.
Though praising the creativity of the fledgling entrepreneurs, Roberts-Reifer said it was also incumbent on the NCF to support the national thrust to have more local businesses become foreign exchange earners and for increased economic activity to be private-sector driven.
In this connection, Andre Hoyte, Senior Business Development Officer and head of the NCF’s Business Development Department, said the sessions are designed to be interactive, while also focusing on critical touchpoints, from the enterprise through to the consumer.
In an effort to expose the excited group of SME owners to the foundational requirements for successful exportation, the NCF symposium featured sessions on market research and trends with Allyson Francis, a services specialist with the Caribbean Export Development Agency. Helen Joffe, a leading consultant to artisans with New York NOW, provided critical insights on what was required for a breakthrough in the global scene.
New York NOW is one of the largest trade expositions in the United States where new and up-and-coming brands, trends in fashion, and custom designs that are expected to hit the market are showcased.
In fact, Hoyte revealed the NCF funded the participation of two Barbadian SMEs at New York NOW 2022.
“Some people may be surprised to know that during COVID-19, a number of small businesses in the creative sector did very well, and we at the NCF are now trying to see how we can have them expand and export their products,” the Senior Business Development Officer outlined.
As far as the NCF officials are concerned, it should be a “natural flow” for creatives to transition from the local market to the export arena through entrepreneurship that results in more employment and a greater contribution from the sector to the Barbados economy.
Hoyte cited the explosion in demand for spa and wellness, accessories, and cosmetic products and services, which continue to rise since the pandemic abated.
Consumers, he also disclosed, were showing keen interest in gourmet items, beverages, wines and specialty ice-creams, among others. “These enterprises did well during the pandemic, and they are saying to us ‘we are still viable, and we want to grow’,” Hoyte disclosed.
Among the wide-ranging topics covered in Accelerate to Export Symposium 2022 was a session on insights on meeting global standards through the International Organisation for Standards. The symposium also provided tips on shipping and logistics from representatives of Calvin Alkins Customs Services and Goddard Shipping.
In addition, discussion forums with experts included topics such as techniques for scaling production for export, understanding legal matters when exporting, and product development.
Partners involved in staging the symposium were the Barbados Manufacturers’ Association, the Barbados National Standards Institution, Export Barbados, and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.