Workshop tackles access to funding
Access to funding remains a major issue for most small and medium sized enterprises (SME).
And it is an issue which the Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA,) in collaboration with the Barbados Private Sector Trade Team, is seeking to address.
During the opening of a two-day workshop at the 3Ws Oval, Cave Hill Campus last Tuesday, vice president of the BPSA John Williams said it continued to be difficult for private sector agencies to gain access to finance through commercial banks and other traditional avenues.
“The BPSA recognized two primary reasons,” he said. “One, some enterprises do not have the capacity to write project proposals and follow the process through until the end, and many private sector enterprises perceive that the application process is onerous and that it is virtually impossible to obtain funds from the major donor agencies.”
Williams noted, however, that where some donor agencies have provided funding for various private sector initiatives, the funds “tended to be under-utilised”.
He said it was therefore against this background that the BPSA and its trade team facilitated the workshop aimed at increasing the capacity of the local business sector to access grant funding.
Noting that it was not uncommon for initiatives to cease as soon as project funding ended, the BPSA vice-president said the private sector was faced with “increasing liberalisation of the domestic market on several fronts” thereby creating greater competition for local enterprises.
He said they were also cognizant that the more than two-year-old European Partnership Agreement (EPA) and CARICOM-Canada trade negotiations would have “opened the market more”.
“Firms outside Barbados and the CARICOM region are now gaining access to Barbados’ market not only in terms of goods trade, but increasingly, several of our service providers are also facing added competition. Given this environment, efforts must be made to enable the private sector to become more competitive in international trade,” he said.
He therefore encouraged participants to “build capacity to access all available sources of funding through self-help”.
Williams advised that as private sector organisations, they should not rely solely on donor funds to enhance their business operations but they should take proactive steps to address all the management and operations issues that their businesses faced.