‘Create clusters’ to access financing
Developing cooperatives and clusters has been identified as one way small enterprises can access financing and take advantage of export opportunities.
According to Lisa Cummins, chairperson of the Pinelands Creative Workshop (PCW) board of trustees, the Caribbean culture of working independently was perhaps not in the best interest of small business owners.
“We’re quite comfortable working on our own. We don’t mind having a business initiative and accessing resources to launch our own business but sometimes some of the challenges with accessing financing come from the fact that on your own you don’t necessarily bring everything that you need to have a successful business,” she said.
Cummins, who is also executive director of the Barbados Coalition of Service Industries, suggested that risk-averse commercial banks may be more likely to lend to a group of four or five individuals with a range of skills and competencies.
Her comments came recently during a Press conference to announce that the Canadian High Commission had donated $60 000 to the third phase of PCW’s Economic Empowerment For Women In Barbados And The OECS project.
Cummins noted that this project complemented what was already being done by development partners and business support agencies.
The inclusion of the cooperative development component and the cluster building is an essential component of any economic empowerment programme, particularly in small economies in the Caribbean.
“That’s what distinguishes this initiative from some of the things that have been done before or are being done,” she said.
PCW chief executive officer Rodney Grant noted that the emphasis on collaboration grew out of some challenges which surfaced in the first two phases of the project.
“We recognized it was necessary to encourage some of the women that we were working with in the region to form [clusters or cooperatives].
“We wanted to pursue this as an important initiative because it would help to resolve issues in terms of scale, in terms of buying power [and] procurement,” he said. (NB)