BIDC project yields results
?The Barbados Investment and Development Corporation’s (BIDC) 2013 Export Readiness Programme has been deemed a success.
Representatives of the 11 companies which participated in the nine month course were awarded during a graduation ceremony last Tuesday.
Speaking during the event at the Bagnall’s Point Gallery in Pelican Village, programme coordinator Paula Bourne explained that it involved both theoretical and practical components.
“These companies have not only covered the theory behind business and market development but they have also experienced the rigours and the thrills of seeking out new markets overseas during the three-day mission to St Lucia,” she said.
BIDC’s director of export promotion and development Sonja Trotman said this was the first time the agency had staged such a programme.
She said the BIDC was encouraged by its success and would soon be choosing the participants for this year’s programme which will focus on services.
“We also want to ensure that the programme is even more intense and that it takes in consideration other aspects such as an export marketing plan and other areas which the current programme may not have addressed,” she said.
Andrea King, chief creative officer of ready-to-wear clothing company Fifth Element Designs, said the trip to St Lucia was a beneficial one.
“You got to interface with Caribbean people and doing business with Caribbean people is completely different to doing business with European people, especially where time is concerned.
“It exposed the participants to the reality of doing business on the ground. Talking about it in a classroom is one thing. Actually going to meet with business people, keeping appointments, getting to the appointments [and] navigating in a country that you have no knowledge about was part of the hard learning curve,” she said.
King noted that entrepreneurs seeking to do business in other markets had to be able to recognise unexpected opportunities.
“The boutique owners that I saw had boutiques in hotels but they were thinking that the clothing more suited them than the tourists. So I discovered that there are opportunities outside of providing for a tourist market to sell the Fifth Element product.
“When you’re on the ground you have to recognise opportunities and that’s what that St Lucia mission taught all of us. You may go for a specific purpose but when you are there other opportunities open up,” she said.
King said the biggest challenge for Barbadians looking to do business in countries like St Lucia would be the price point.
“Our production costs are very high particularly because of how much we have to pay for power and labour so it pushes up our price point,” she said.
King said companies had to pursue opportunities for mass production in order to drive down costs.
“There’s the whole of CARICOM, whole of CARIFORUM and the rest of the world so what we have to do, if some companies haven’t already done it, is find markets to sell our products so that our production costs can be reduced because we are producing more,” she said.