From: Bernard Hamilton, Chairman, Centre for Enterprise Development Inc.
The year 2021 turned out to be much of a continuation of the uncertainties and anxieties that characterized the previous year, save for an escalation of COVID-19 cases and deaths and the explosive eruption of La Soufriere volcano. These two events led to much economic and social disruptions/dislocations and negated hopes of an immediate post-COVID recovery in 2021.
The fallout from the pandemic has led to among other catastrophic consequences – rising cost of living and chronic shortages of goods and services globally. This has been having quite a negative impact on businesses locally and especially the micro/small business sector where the higher input cost is affecting their competitiveness, and by extension the erosion of profit margins.
While we look forward to 2022 with cautious optimism, we are forever mindful of the ominous clouds and head winds that threaten our post- COVID recovery, which could be prolonged due to the proliferation of COVID virus variants. At the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc (CED), we continue to laud the resilience displayed by the small business operators in trying to weather the economic storms. We are equally aware of their own vulnerabilities resulting from dis-economies of scale and lack of capital resources. In this regard we remain firmly committed to working with critical stakeholders in mitigating these challenges. During the year we have successfully partnered with the Government through its income support initiatives as well as the Embassy of the Republic of China (Taiwan) in providing critical financial and technical support services to the more vulnerable low-income small business owners. These programmes will continue in 2022 and we expect to see much needed relief support provided to the micro/small business sector.
The work of the CED has also been negatively impacted in 2021 and some of our objectives have not been met. During this period, we turned our attention internally to promote institutional strengthening and staff development initiatives which will be further developed in 2022 in order to retool and prepare the organization for the challenges ahead and the new realities of a post-COVID environment.
I take this opportunity on behalf of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Centre for Enterprise Development to wish all our customers and the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines, a Merry Christmas and a prosperous and less challenging 2022.