July 16, 2010
Todd issues challenge to small businesses

Five representatives from the private and public sectors in St. Vincent and the Grenadines joined over 20 specialists from around the region for Module 1 of the export marketing training programme in Barbados recently to gain insights to improve the export business strategies of their members, clients and in some cases their own businesses as well.{{more}}

The three-day workshop, organised by InWEnt-Capacity Building International Germany in collaboration with Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) was opened by Barbados’ Minister of State in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Empowerment, Innovation, Trade, Industry and Commerce, the Honourable Patrick Todd. He challenged small businesses to be proactive in their approach to retooling, being adaptable and open to the opportunities that change brings.

Head of the political, trade, regional integration, press and information section of the European Union Delegation to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Elsa Fenet, said “The EU fully supports this initiative by InWent and Caribbean Export to bring the private sector small and medium-sized enterprises, as well as business support organisations on board to benefit from this training programme on Export Marketing.”

Fenet added that, “Even though it is the public sector that negotiates trade agreements on behalf of the general population it is the private sector which propels the provisions which have been carved out and also benefits from the opportunities enshrined in the treaties.”

Workshop participants agreed that the knowledge imparted gave them a greater appreciation of the trade opportunities that exist through the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU as well as their own need to put systems in place to take advantage of the EPA. Fashion Designer and Clothing Manufacturer Kimya Glasgow described the workshop as ‘well timed’. She said it made her aware of the “potential rewards and pitfalls of exporting and how to prepare one’s business strategically for this next growth step”.

Fellow Vincentian Ronette Glynn agreed with her, stating that she found, “the recently attended workshop to be quite informative, well planned and structured with unlimited possibilities.” Ms. Glynn, a representative from an organisation that supports Small and Medium-sized businesses (SMEs) added that, “it has provided us with a powerful tool, which in turn enables us to empower our SMEs with the knowledge necessary to firstly become export ready and ultimately, export. This … is a window of opportunity for SMEs and I am very excited to see the outcome.”

In addition to the fashion/design sector, the specialty food sector of St. Vincent and the Grenadines benefitted from the workshop.

Module 2 of the programme will reconvene in October. Manager, Core Services, Caribbean Export, Veona Maloney, noted “All 15 CARIFORUM countries will have the opportunity to benefit from this informative training initiative by the end of the programme in October 2011.