Eyes on Bim
Businessman considering setting up operations in barbados after good sales at BMEX
For the past 11 years Amerindian HandiCraft, a Guyanese-based company, has been taking part in the annual Barbados Manufacturers’ Exhibition (BMEX).
And over that period manager Sookdeo Sancharra, who is also in charge of marketing, has been expressing interest in setting up operations in Barbados, but that has not yet been possible.
Amerindian HandiCraft is located in the East Bank Demerara in the South American country. They have been manufacturing treated Rattan furniture and a wide range of handicraft, including baskets, hats and trays for the past 18 years.
Speaking to Barbados TODAY at the recent BMEX showcase, which was held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre from June 6 to 9, Sancharra said although he considered setting up operations here, it would not be easy.
“I have talked to quite a few persons, but I have not found anyone who is very serious and has the kind of accommodation. Everybody complain that they are renting and costs are high and the overheads are very high. I even try to leave goods on consignment with a few persons and they said they operate at the Port where the cruise ships dock, and they say when it is off season they do no business and it kinds of impact on them negatively; so they can’t operate. So the few sales that they get go towards expenses and rents, and it kind of pushing them out of the business,” he explained.
“It is going to be difficult for me to rent here. Rent in Barbados is pretty high, and because it is a seasonal thing where people come in and buy stuff, especially the tourist market. [But] if you can get a place to rent at a cheap cost and have a staff employed it would do well; it can survive here in Barbados,” he added.
Amerindian HandiCraft was established to provide employment for the less fortunate in some of the remote villages in Guyana. The company currently employs over 70 people.
“I still consider our business cottage industry because most of the persons that work with us, they belong to the remote area of Guyana and they are still far from civilization,” he said.
“So what we do here we use the company to motivate Amerindians who are unemployed in areas that are depressed. We go to the depressed communities and we help the people who are out of job, and we mobilize the people with the skill and get them to work and do handicraft,” he explained.
Sancharra said while the economic situation had impacted negatively on the operations, he was able to do some adjustments. Those adjustments, he said, involved laying off of some workers while remaining ones had to take on more roles in an effort to “cut cost down so that the cost of the product to do not go up”.
Speaking about the 32-year-old BMEX showcase, Sancharra told Barbados TODAY he was satisfied with the participation of both exhibitors and patrons.
“There are a lot of people coming in and asking questions, and everybody wants to know something new every time you come,” he said.
And while sales tended to fluctuate, Sancharra said he was satisfied with the sales he got each year.
“There are people who come to do on-the-spot shopping, as well as persons who come and place orders for specific items, especially the hotels; they come with custom measurements and products they would like to have manufactured,” he said.
“The [items] sit very well with the market here because people go for the natural product. People tend to appreciate this ahead of the synthetic product like the plastic ware, the hotels especially, the hotel industry go better with the natural product,” added Sancharra.
He also lauded the organizers of BMEX.
“BMEX is booming every year. Every year you come to BMEX it is more organized, they have more participation; more companies coming here and they have a lot of new services. The organizers to BMEX are flowing with time. They are flowing with time,” he said.