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Small businesses losing hope

The economic situation in Barbados is causing some small business operators to lose hope.

That’s according to chief executive officer of the Small Business Association (SBA) Lynette Holder who said her organization will be trying to help pull those entrepreneurs out of that state of mind before they reach the point of despair.

She was speaking to Barbados TODAY following a promotional bus tour that saw the SBA interacting with proprietors to major commercial areas including Holetown, St James; Speightstown, St Peter; Six Roads, St Philip; and Oistins, Christ Church.

She said the tour was a “bitter-sweet experience”.

“We had the opportunity to see some colleagues and former members and members of the SBA [and] we had the opportunity to mingle and interact with people in the sector,” Holder said.

“But the bitterness came when we listened to the comments and feedback from practically every sole proprietor, entrepreneur and small business manager that we interacted with – how challenging it is for them to survive . . . . Every interviewee, every firm, the feedback was the same. They are not making any money, especially in the retail sector. They are struggling to market their product, to attract customers and conclude sales. And against that backdrop is the high cost of doing business and it is constantly going up; utilities are up, rents are up. We have actually been asked by some to come and intervene with their landlords on their behalf at this time.”

“It bothered me that there were no positive comments. There were no encouraging words. People felt there was no hope at this time, and when a person does not have hope it can only lead to despair. To me, it is one of the worst conditions that the human mind and emotion can be in where there is no hope . . . . These folks they don’t know what’s next,” Holder added.

The SBA head said she got the impression that some of the business owners were in a “wait and see” mode.

At the same time, Holder said she believed that entrepreneurs ought to be more innovative and more aggressive in marketing their products to attract and keep customers. She also suggested that business operators form clusters in order to cut cost.

The SBA CEO said the association emerged from the tour with “some good ideas” about what it could do to help businesses going forward.

However, she declined to give any details, saying only that they would include lobbying and education.

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