Small business, vital role

A message from Minister of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, The Hon. Denis Kellman, M.P.

Fellow Barbadians, as we celebrate Small Business Week 2012, we do so fully cognizant of the challenges facing the Barbadian economy. However, we are also conscious of the pivotal role the small business sector is playing in helping us to meet those challenges. Being mindful of this, the Government of Barbados continues to pay very close attention to the sector and is intent on creating the enabling environment to support its continued growth.

I note with interest that your theme for this year’s celebration of Small Business Week is “Embracing Technology as the New Frontier”. We identify with this theme recognising the contribution of information and communication technologies to sustainable national development. As stated in the National Information and Communication Technologies Strategic Plan of Barbados 2010 to 2015, ICTs help to fuel efficiency, drive competitiveness, stimulate knowledge creation, improve productivity, and sustain economic, social and cultural development.

It is becoming increasingly clear that ICTs have the capacity to help businesses cope with the ever-increasing challenges resulting from trade liberalisation and globaliation. They facilitate outsourcing which results in improved operational efficiency and enhanced competitiveness for small and medium enterprises. This outsourcing is not of the kind that would destroy our country or any of our CARICOM neighbours. Instead, it is outsourcing that would expand our reach and create economies of scale as businesses will be positioned to gain greater global market access and improve their capability and capacity to generate foreign exchange.

The development of digital ICTs has created a revolution, leading to dramatic shifts in the way traditional business is conducted. For example, the use of social media networks in the market place has exploded. Small and medium enterprises have no choice but to get on board.

There are many benefits that can accrue to small and medium enterprises through the use of an appropriate ICT framework. With the right complements such as power, connectivity, content, skills, support systems, functional markets, and supportive policy frameworks in place, both the demand and benefits of such an effective ICT framework will remain high.

The market for ICTs is rapidly expanding, especially within developing countries. Although an under exploited market, it accounts for just over $50 billion, or roughly one per cent of the total purchasing power in these countries. This suggests that they are significant gains to be made by Barbados through the implementation of an effective ICT infrastructure, an action that must be leveraged with some urgency.

I am confident that Small Business Week 2012 will be the catalyst to the further embracing of ICTs as agents of positive change within the small business sector and the wider Barbadian society as a whole. Not to replace old values, but to enhance them. ICTs would be a means of driving innovation and better positioning our tertiary level institutions and our students at large. ICTs would increase the cost benefits of the education system to the public purse, justifying Government’s large investment in the education sector. The public and private sectors will benefit as education would become purpose driven, responding to the needs of the changing market place.

Let us make this “New Frontier” work for us. Let us use it to catapult our small and medium enterprises on to the international stage. Let it assist us in finding our niche in the global value chain.

I reaffirm Government’s commitment to the continued growth of the small business sector in Barbados and take great pleasure in declaring Small Business Week 2012 officially open.

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