The CEO's Last Word - Our Role in 'We Gatherin'

Barbadians by birth, descent or choice and those who simply love Barbados, were urged by the current administration to return home for the ‘We Gatherin’ 2020 celebrations.

The aim of this year-long campaign is to rebuild community spirit and to develop the socio-economic climate of the island by providing opportunities for all Barbadians to participate and invest in local events and projects.

It is hoped that this recommitment to nation building will pave a successful future for the country in all areas but this can only be accomplished if all ‘hands are on deck.’

As a result, all micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) should eagerly seek to discover what their role in ‘We Gatherin’ could be. Now is the time for greater levels of innovation and creativity from the small business sector as the key drivers of economic growth and social inclusion on the island.

It is no secret that the MSME sector contributes vastly to the Barbadian economy, constituting over 95% of formal enterprises in Barbados and accounting for 47.6% of total employment in the country. One then could only imagine the capability of this sector and its impact on our economy if given greater opportunities to be internationalised.

Though a lot can be done on the part of local small business practitioners to ensure that they take advantage of the opportunities ‘We Gatherin’ presents, including aligning their branding with that of the campaign to attract sales, a few questions still remain.

- Has enough been done by those in charge of this project to ensure that the ‘small man’ and those that are not a part of formal associations, also gain exposure from these events?

- What measures have been put in place to create opportunities for the Diaspora to do business with small firms, whether its investment or procurement?

Furthermore, why is there not a clear path on the ‘We Gatherin’ website to allow for small business owners to submit an application to be featured in the list of activities being promoted to do, see or eat in Barbados? Are we satisfied that the business component of 'We Gatherin' treats enough to facilitating business development at the parish level?

The SBA is doing its part to empower MSMEs and has attended some of the ‘We Gatherin’ events in St. Lucy including the Business and Heritage Tour, the Market Day Business Fair and the ‘Straight Talk’ - Open for Business presentation. Additionally, the association has used its social media platforms and online reach to promote small businesses situated in the allocated parish for each month, creating greater visibility for these firms.

87452835 2723954817672775 1655109662338449408 o   87423134 2723954551006135 4976428479588335616 o   DSC 0325

(Members of the SBA Team engaging members of the public at the 'Speightstown Alive' event) 

In February, the SBA’s team attended the ‘Straight Talk’ - Open for Business panel discussion in Boscobelle and the ‘Speightstown Alive’ Market Day and Business Fair. However, at the latter event, one was truly left to wonder if the development and promotion of the small business sector was given due significance in the scheme of things. The location of the business fair left much to be desired as the booths provided were situated in the St. Peter Parish Church car park - far removed from the festivities in the area, leaving little probability for foot traffic or public interest. As we know in the marketing of these events, its location, location, location! This left the SBA team with no other choice but to take to the streets to engage the public.

If the objective of this ‘We Gatherin’ project is truly to bolster this island’s economy, then more can and should be done to ensure that the sector which contributes significantly to social and economic development, is given the necessary platforms to excel.

-Senator Dr. Lynette Holder

(CEO of the SBA)