February 17, 2012
Officials host National Consultation on Small and Medium Enterprise Development

A number of local business persons convened at the NIS Training Room earlier this week for a National Consultation on Small and Medium Enterprise Development facilitated by the Caricom Secretariat, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Ministry of Trade.{{more}}

Economist in the Ministry of Tourism and Industry Ellison Clarke said the Business of developing a policy framework for small and medium enterprises (SME) in the region is an important one. He noted that the governments of the region have highlighted SME development in its local, regional and international negotiations as one of the levels that needed special attention if sustainable development of the region was to be ensured.

Clarke pointed out that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is privileged to have been working in this area for the past three years and had received the assistance of the Caricom Secretariat in drafting a policy and strategic plan as well as a new draft bill with accompanying regulations. He said the process of a harmonized approach of SME development in the region is important if we are to cement the significance we place on the development of the small business sector.

Specialist and Private Sector Facilitator at the Caricom Secretariat Leela Ramoutar said the purpose of the Consultation was to present the draft strategic plan and harmonized model bill for SME’s development. She gave a background on the plan, noting that it is five years old and it was developed by member states.

Ramoutar said a recent study shows that the main weakness of Cariforum is the lack of a consistent focus on competitiveness on the sector at the national, regional and international levels. She noted that a lot of work needs to be done on the institutional environment both legal and regulatory framework since the infrastructure is inadequate and inefficient.

Ramoutar further pointed out that the region needs to strive to achieve macro and economic stability. She said the factors of production must be competitive, noting that it is a major challenge for SME to be competitive if the factors of production continue to be as high as it is.

The facilitator noted that sources of finance are inadequate, and where they are available the process of accessing them are too cumbersome. She said the region needs to have an expanded export market as well as develop a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Ramoutar made a presentation on the five broad areas proposed on the draft strategic plan which are Funding and Financing, Use of ICT, Policy, Legislative and Regulatory Framework, Institutional Capacity and Marketing Management. She spoke of the constraints of these sub-headings and what can be done to address the removal of the constraints.

Participants presented ideas based on practical experiences and outlined possible solutions which can work best in the development of the sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the region as a whole.