The head of the Barbados Small Business Association thinks some local businesses are their own worst enemies. Saying she was aware her comments would likely draw criticism from some of those she represented, CEO Lynette Holder criticised the “number of firms who seem contented to stay on shore and simply cry out for protection against competition”.

Additionally, the business executive believed “too many firms are not becoming sophisticated enough for the global stage and worst yet, seem not to understand the urgency in getting there”. She made the comments in the latest edition of the SBA’s Outlook Newsletter, which was released today.

“The reality is there for all who wish to see, the rules have changed and we need to get our businesses to become more sophisticated and aggressive in pursuing new markets,” Holder stated.

“Plans are afoot to pursue a trade/political mission to Brazil, one of the largest and most sophisticated markets in Latin America. I can bet however that many business persons will not readily see the opportunities that are possible and will probably show no interest.

“As I have pointed out just recently, macro businesses in particular, should be encouraged to develop competitive goods and services to trade at international levels, export and earn foreign exchange. The interventionist role of government must be in creating the policy and administrative environment to facilitate growth and not to protect industry from competition,” she added.

The CEO said sometimes it was necessary to “take a position which is diametrically opposed to the prevailing thoughts of your peers”.

“The SBA will continue to advocate and educate our constituents, in the interest of all and always in a responsible and independent manner. We should never feel threatened by the proffering of independent or diverse views on any subject matter, and we should never seek to dismiss the message simply because of the messenger,” she stated.

Holder saw a need for a greater percentage of industry to “expand their operations to become foreign exchange earners”. “We are signatory to several international conventions governing world trade and cannot have protectionist policies that flout the tenets of such agreements. This is a reality I fear not understood by many,” she said.

“Government must continue to protect the vulnerable in the society such as women, youth, differently-able and micro businesses to name a few.It must also, through its legislative process and trade vehicles, encourage businesses to look beyond these shores, be internationally viable and export.” (SC)

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