A forum to boost small enterprises
OVER THE NEXT three days, Barbados will be hosting a major hemispheric conference, the XV Inter-American Microenterprise Forum (FOROMIC 2012), the biggest annual microfinance and microenterprise development event.
More than 1 000 participants are expected for this event which is being held in an English-speaking nation for the first time.
The event will focus on innovative ways to unlock entrepreneurship and should attract financial and microfinance officials, foundations and event academia working in this critical sector. The importance of the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has been underscored by both the incumbent Democratic labour Party administration and the main Opposition Barbados Labour Party.
It is obvious that the development of this sector is going to be a key pillar in the creation of jobs for this country in the future. These MSMEs are going to be the powerhouse and one of the main socio-economic platforms to develop innovation, entrepreneurship and wealth.
Small businesses employ a large portion of the labour force in many countries across the Caribbean. They contribute to development, are leaders in innovation and creativity, complement the productive capacities of large businesses and are critical to macroeconomic inflows.
We appreciate that the small business sector is of significance to the economic development of many countries, some of which we like to highlight as models of success. In Brazil it contributes to 20 per cent of GDP and employs some 60 million people, or 56 per cent of the labour force.
Outside of this hemisphere there is Taiwan, where the small business sector has been a phenomenal success, both in terms of contribution to employment and commercial activity, while in India this sector has been showing very strong growth.
Hopefully, when the various delegates attending FOROMIC 2012 sit down over the next three days, it should not be only mere “old talk” but a serious attempt to deal with the real issues affecting the MSMEs. We recognize that access to financing is still a challenge for some entrepreneurs and, hopefully, some clear-cut and creative ways, including non-traditional means, of dealing with this issue can be outlined during these talks.
We also need to ensure that the regulatory regime is in place with the necessary platforms to stimulate growth as the sector needs to be effective if many of these businesses are to develop into more competitive businesses.
Our MSMEs need to compete internationally and as such must be given the support to achieve this objective for they too can earn foreign exchange. They need to fully embrace and utilize technology. Even in a changing world one, of the real means of support must be the consistent and deliberate allocation of a quota of state business to small businesses on a competitive basis.
There is nothing small about the MSMEs.