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bidcThe investment and development arm of the Barbados Government today announced a three-year strategic plan aimed at reviving the struggling manufacturing sector and creating hundreds of new jobs.

Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Investment and Development Corporation, Dr. Leroy McClean, revealed that the framework, outlined in its corporate strategic plan for 2013-2016, will see the roll out of several team-oriented projects as part of BIDC’s enhanced service delivery-thrust.

Addressing the inaugural Symposium on Innovation and Manufacturing, sponsored by the Ministry of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development at the Savannah Hotel, Hastings, Christ Church, McClean said the aim of the new thrust was to promote a strong cadre of innovation and business-savvy entrepreneurs, a more resilient and sustainable export sector and new opportunities for growth in the knowledge and technology driven sectors.

He said the intention was also to promote revitalised, traditional industry segments.

“We have identified four major critical success factors for manufacturers: the ability to capitalise on emerging market opportunities, access to financing for innovation-driven entrepreneurship, new product development, strategic partnerships and agency collaboration,” he stated.

The CEO told those attending the symposium, including Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Inniss, the corporation recognised that by investing in new product development and building high-potential entrepreneurial ventures, Barbados would be better positioned to achieve sales growth, new market penetration, export expansion and job creation.

“That therefore was the impetus of our ‘Explore to Grow’ initiative. Through this initiative, we intend to fast track the development of new products through carefully selected project ideas, born out of cross-sector collaboration between the BIDC and private sector companies,” added the business leader.

“Additionally,” McClean continued, “a major component of this project will be the investigation of ways to enhance existing traditional product offerings that can lead to the development of a line of value-added … and high-value products.”

He disclosed that this project would result in the unveiling of a low-cost souvenir sales initiative for the craft, food and botanicals sub-sectors. McClean said these initiatives were progressing well beyond the conceptualisation stage.

“With respect to financing for innovation-driven entrepreneurship,” the BIDC CEO declared, “we found that while there are several funding schemes in place, these are underutilised.”

McClean also informed the participants, that the BIDC was seeking to address how it could make project-financing more readily available and easily accessible for its New Enterprise programme. He noted that the aim was to change ideas into money-making ventures and successes.

“The plan, while aimed at increasing the number of new start-ups, is exploring alternative financing arrangements for clients,” he asserted.

He announced that discussions had already been initiated with possible partners in respect of this and have so far proven positive. McClean submitted that its New Enterprise Project would extend to an enhanced incubator programme, where start-up businesses could be moulded into economically-viable enterprises that could help to create employment and stimulate economic growth.

“The other projects which form part of the corporation’s three-year framework include the BIDC’s On De Road initiative which will encourage more people in more communities to unleash ideas, explore enterprise, build their skills and start up in business and the Entrepreneurship Through Education Project, aimed at inspiring today’s students to become tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. (EJ)

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