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RIGHT OF CENTRE: Source of social enablement

Jerry Blenman

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Small businesses within the Barbadian context are by definition firms that typically employ no more than 25 individuals, have a maximum capital position of $1 million, and do not exceed annual revenue of $2 million.
Unlike large developed economies where more than two thirds of all employees work for large enterprises, a significant percentage of the Barbadian workforce is employed by a private sector comprising primarily small and medium-sized enterprises with smaller elements of large and micro enterprises.
However, a broad analysis of statistical data suggests that the share of aggregate economic activity by small firms is somewhat smaller than that of large firms, pointing in the circumstance to the importance of large firms as mobilizers of economic activity that drive the development of small firms.
While large firms account for the lion’s share of aggregate economic activity, small and medium enterprises within the Barbadian context play a more significant role than their proportion of total employment or aggregate activity might suggest.
Not only do they make up the vast majority of firms, they have been an ongoing source of job creation and more generally, social enablement.
Within the last decade there has been an increasing trend towards entrepreneurship among people within the 18-to-35 age range, resulting in the emergence of several small entities across varying sectors.
This is encouraging, given the important relation between the economic progress of a nation and levels of employment.
That small enterprises continue to play a pivotal role in employment is important as on point, economic development is fundamentally dependent on the employability of a nation’s workforce and available opportunities for employment.
In this connection, the litmus test for small businesses’ survivability and their ability to enhance productive capacity while positioning themselves as highly efficient, globally competitive and the engines of new sources of innovation is important.
If the hope of economic progress is to be pinned on small businesses, then increased levels of national enablement bolstered by planning systems that institutionalize structures focused on operational efficiencies and global competitiveness will be vital.
If the hope of economic progress is to be pinned on small businesses, they should not stay small. They should grow and make room for the emergence of new waves of small enterprises.
They should become increasingly productive while developing and bolstering national export capacity, thereby contributing to real economic growth.
Can we honestly conclude that the greater percentage of small businesses in Barbados are so positioned?
Can we point to trends that suggest growth and transitioning of small businesses to medium enterprises?
Can we?
Let’s therefore not be frivolous about this matter.
While small businesses have a critical role to play in bolstering economic activity and undoubtedly have been playing a major role as engines of growth, increased hope of their contribution to the economic fortunes of Barbados is highly dependent on their ability to invest in their developmental capacity and/or gain the confidence of a risk-averse investment public to facilitate such.

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