Small Business Week 2021 Recap

sbw recapDespite the challenging socio-economic climate facing the small business sector due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Small Business Association held a week of activities to provide encouragement, insight and invaluable knowledge to small business owners. 

 Small Business Week 2021 was held under the theme “Building Back Better - The Road to a Resilient and Resourceful Recovery” and included four spectacular events. 

Church Service

The week commenced with members giving thanks to God and praying for strength and resilience for the sector at the New Dimensions Ministries Church. The sermon delivered by Minister Sonia Johnson entitled “Hold On, Don’t Give Up” was a timely message to members, encouraging them to keep pressing on in faith even though times were hard. The beautiful service set an inspirational tone for the rest of the week.

State of the Sector Conference - “The Regional Perspective”

The State of the Sector conference, now in its third year, explored the theme of the Week - and helped to highlight the ways in which MSMEs across the region could build resilience and successfully recover from the hardships faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CARICOM Secretary General, Dr. Carla Barnett, gave the keynote address where she lauded the association for creating a regional platform to have these important discussions. She highlighted that the International Monetary Fund and other multilaterals have agreed that the Caribbean region has been the worst economically affected in the world by the COVID-19 pandemic due to its heavy reliance on tourism and travel. She went on to state that a recovery from the losses incurred by the tourism sector was predicted to occur in 2023 at best but would be dependent on an adequate supply of vaccines and the region achieving herd immunity.

As a result, Dr. Barnett posited that in these highly uncertain and difficult times, the development and success of MSMEs would be a critical factor in charting a course for the region out of these social and economic challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Following on from this address was Executive Director of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, Mr. Deodat Maharaj who provided viewers with a broad overview of the current state of the regional MSME sector and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr. Maharaj highlighted a study conducted by the Caribbean Development Bank in 2016 which stated that MSMEs contribute between 70% and 80% of all enterprises, contribute between 60% and 70% of GDP and account for approximately 50% of employment- making the MSME sector the backbone of economies across the region. However, he noted that the sector has been confronted by the disruption of supply chains, suppressed demands for their goods and services, temporary closure and business failures due to the pandemic. 

Further expounding on the effects of the pandemic, Mr. Maharaj made reference to a survey conducted by CEDA in collaboration with CDB in 2020 which surveyed close to 500 businesses across the region. He noted that almost 50% of respondents reported that they had to close their physical operations or halt production and 40% reported having to change the nature of their daily operations. Almost 40% of respondents reported that the pandemic cost them between $1000 - $10,000 in revenue in the early stages and a quarter of respondents reported losses of over USD$60k. Additionally, around 30% of survey respondents reported that they had to retrench staff. 

With MSMEs contributing over 60% in GDP and 50% of employment regionally, it is evident that the pandemic has dealt a deleterious blow to the region’s standard of living and shows why the sector’s recovery is so necessary for the overall economic recovery of the region.

A presentation was also made by co-founders of Think Global Brazil, Ms. Raquel Boechat and Mr. Rogerio Bohn, who highlighted the elements of a resourceful recovery and the steps MSMEs should take to build back better. They both made clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that business is conducted globally and business owners could no longer do the same things but now needed to have disruptive initiatives in order to thrive. 

To watch the full video click the following link: https://www.facebook.com/sbabarbados/videos/258715532801265

EIA Youth Forum

The Enterprise in Action Youth Forum is an annual showcase put together in conjunction with the association’s Enterprise in Action Youth Programme to focus on the entrepreneurial development of the youth and to showcase the projects created by the 4th and 5th form students who participated in the programme. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, students were unable to physically attend school and therefore were unable to take part in the programme as normal. 

As a result, this year’s forum took a different approach with young entrepreneurs and past students of the programme discussing their entrepreneurial ventures and giving advice and encouragement to the students currently in the programme.

Some of these young entrepreneurs included 14 year old Martia Johsnon of Martia’s Ice-Creams, Destiny Watson of Phenomenally Hooked and Danae Greaves of Teen Joy.

Finally, member of the Association and owner of Virtual Aide, Ms. Jessica Reid provided students with life hacks for streamlining their career and guest presenter, Mr. Matthew Springer of Holistec spoke on the importance of innovation and technology in developing a career.

To watch the full video click the following link: https://www.facebook.com/sbabarbados/videos/1311406869278359/

AWARDS CEREMONY

The Small Business Association of Barbados hosted its annual awards event during Small Business Week 2021, held this year under the theme “Building Back Better – The Road to a Resilient and Resourceful Recovery.” 

The event sought to celebrate and recognise some of the association’s member-firms who showed exceptional creativity, innovation and perseverance in their operations, over the last year despite the many challenges faced due to COVID-19. 

Winning the Business Start-Up, Micro Business, Small Business and Group Membership sectoral awards were DWP Investments Barbados Ltd, Safe Food Essentials, Shine Automotive Inc. and the Pig Farmers Cooperative Society, respectively.

Additionally, local manufacturer of organic, Caribbean-inspired spa and beauty products and owner of IMORO, Ms. Portia Doyle, won the coveted Minister’s Award for Innovation due to her creative use of the volcanic ash which affected the island earlier this year, in a new set of skincare products.

The President’s Award was received by Mr. Robert Homer of RMH Financial Consultants Inc. who was one of the first SBA members to receive its corporate service provider license and also helped to enable the facilitation of online QuickBooks courses by providing the software for students. 

Most notably, receiving the coveted 2021 Entrepreneurship Award was Mr. Dario Greenidge, owner of Shine Automotive Inc. 

In addition, the SBA introduced the People’s Choice and Public Participation awards, stemming from the association’s “Follow Us To Small Business Week” promotion held from September 4 – 20. The promotion sought to encourage the public to show their support for the SBA’s membership by texting or tagging their favourite business each day during this period. The People’s Choice Award went to local ice-cream shop, Delice La Crème who received over 4,300 votes while the Public Participation Award went to Ms. Kimmele Jn-Pierre who tagged and commented over 1000 times during the promotion. 

CEO of the SBA, Sen. Dr. Lynette Holder, stated that the ceremony was the association’s way of giving members their roses and showing appreciation for the significant contribution made by the MSME sector towards economic and social development, nationally. She went on to note that the SBA would continue to create local platforms and facilitate regional dialogues that would help to celebrate the sector and reposition it for growth.

To watch the full video, click the following link: https://www.facebook.com/sbabarbados/videos/417115433346502