Sí for small businesses

Labour Minister Dr Esther Byer-Suckoo visting Metalworks Artistry at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre today.

Micro enterprises in Barbados could soon be doing business on the Latin American and Caribbean markets.

Investigations by Barbados TODAY revealed that FOROMIC Barbados 2012, a Latin American and Caribbean Forum on financing micro-enterprises now underway at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, has opened up the way for micro, small and medium sized entrepreneurs to sell their products on the South American continent and parts of the English speaking region.

As the three-day conference went into its penultimate day today, small and micro entrepreneurs who have booths set up with their products, have been reporting tangible benefits and positive results from Hispanic and Caribbean delegates who visited their displays. All of those this newspaper spoke with this afternoon, said the clients, mostly from the Spanish speaking South American states, had been buying items ranging from painted custom-made T-shirts, metalwork craft to traditional Barbadian board games.

“The exposure to people from a different market was good.  We were able to make a few contacts, we have had some purchases, particularly the Warri game and the Potta game,” said spokesperson for Harwood Works, Rosalind Thomas.

She also told this newspaper that patrons from countries such as Belize, Venezuela and Peru had expressed interests in buying their products online, a facility which was being provided by Managing Director of Business and Customer Network, Adrian Millington.

“The IDB President Alberto Moreno also visited us and we taught him Potta,” noted Thomas. However, she and Millington said they hoped the organisers of FOROMIC could have had a meeting before hand with them to let them know what exactly to expect from the delegates and the fact that they were mostly Spanish speaking.

“We will definitely benefit from the exposure to a different market. The Hispanic market will now be opened up to me. It widens my scope from the local market to which I am accustomed,” declared designer and owner of Spirit Of My Soul fine arts and pottery business, Lisa Smith-Fields.

The business woman said a lot of clients from Latin America who visited her booth, expressed interest in being supplied with her products and even bought some of her hand painted T-shirts, specially designed to their specifications. In fact, while a team from Barbados TODAY was visiting the display, the owner was painting a turtle on a T-shirt for a Guatemalan female delegate.

Managing Director and designer of Metalworks Artistry, Louise Parris also insisted that exposure to people from Latin America was a major benefit to her business. She, too, had been selling to visitors from Latin America, the United States and Jamaica.

Blossom O’Meally-Nelson from Jamaica, who returned to collect her custom made ring, said she was very impressed by the quality, standard and value of the metal artistry.

Minister of Labour Dr. Esther Byer-Suckoo was one of the visitors to the Metalworks Artistry booth at the time. She too, was delighted with the high quality of the local items, and thought it important that the Latin American and Caribbean delegates were able to witness them.

Managing Director of Amerindian Handi Craft, Sookdeo Sancharra, who came in from Guyana, said being at FOROMIC with his booth, opened up avenues of opportunities.

Sancharra said the delegates who visited his display and bought items, were particularly interested in the wooden face masks and wooden sculpture.

“I had a lot of face masks there and almost all gone. People who bought came from Mexico, Colombia and Costa Rico. Some one from Jamaica said they would like to see our products on the Jamaican market,” he disclosed.

All of the micro and small business people we interviewed said they had networked with delegates and would follow up after exchanging contact details. (EJ) 

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