PM Douglas says identifying and grooming small businesspersons are number one priority

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, NOVEMBER 13TH 2012 (CUOPM) – Highlighting his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Government’s number one priority in identifying and grooming small businesspersons throughout the twin-island Federation, St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said small and large businesses are needed in the local economy.

“We need foreign investors, and we need local investors. Agriculture is important, and tourism is important. Manufacturing is important, and financial services and information technology are important. And so, your Government has developed a thorough and multifaceted approach to ensuring that each of these sectors receives the type of policy and programmatic support that would benefit the nation at large and that would help to maintain and ensure a vibrantly diversified economy,” said Prime Minister Douglas during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister.”

Focusing on those Kittitians and Nevisians who are trying to establish themselves as businesspeople in the Federation, Prime Minister Douglas noted that good business ideas, properly developed, marketed, and managed, could produce the kind of income streams on which they would be able to raise a family and build a life.

“Ideas are one thing. Know-how, however, is another. And so, Government has launched a programme to identify Kittitians and Nevisians who desire to enter the world of business, have workable business ideas, have the requisite energy and determination to make these ideas work, but who simply do not have the experience or the business know-how to bring these ideas to fruition. Or, even when they are able to bring their ideas to market, they may not have the skills and insights needed to remain in business as viable, income-generating, and most important of all profitable concerns for years to come,” Prime Minister Douglas told listeners.

He said starting next Monday at 5 o’clock and running until 8 every evening for three weeks, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation will be holding a Business Boot Camp at their headquarters in the Sands Complex, to benefit Kittitians and Nevisians who wish to get into business, but need help in order to do so.

“Those who have a product or a service they wish to bring to market, and are willing to embrace the hard work and sacrifices that building a business entails, will be given an important leg up by the SIDF arranging for them to meet, interact with, and be taught by professionals in the fields of accounting; management; marketing; customer relations – all of which are key to business,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

“We understand, at the same time, that it is not only these skills that many aspiring entrepreneurs lack. Commercial banks are often unwilling to work with inexperienced individuals struggling to bring an idea to market. And, unfortunately, many of these aspiring entrepreneurs often have no-one who is in a position to help,” he said.

Dr. Douglas further pointed out that some of the most successful businesses in the Federation started off in extremely humble circumstances and by today’s standards, many of them, when they were beginning, would not even be considered a micro-enterprise.

“However, many small businesspeople today do not know this, and they sometimes become discouraged as they contrast where they are today with the financial might of some of our larger businesses. What my Government is determined to do, therefore, is to give today’s small businesspeople an even better start than some of today’s leading businesses had when they – or their forefathers – were starting out. And we are going to do this through the SIDF’s Small Entrepreneur and Enterprise Development (SEED) Programme,” he said.

Through this programme, the country’s small entrepreneurs will be eligible for business loans of between EC$5,000 and EC$100,000 interest free.

“In addition to providing these funds, however, in order to maximize their chances for success, the SEED Programme will also provide them with the mandatory business training I mentioned a few moments ago because there absolutely must be these two components – capital and know-how – if these individuals are to maximize their chances of becoming competent, competitive, self-sustaining business entities,” said Dr. Douglas during the programme.

He said even after their training has been completed and the funding provided, these individuals will still be paired with experienced business managers who will help them to set realistic targets, accurately measure their performance, and oversee operations as they move from fledgling entrepreneur to solid business person.

“This programme will embrace between 20 and 100 small businesses – depending on the financial requirements of each participant’s ventures – knowing that this will benefit not only them, but the entire nation due to spinoff benefits that result from the establishment of new businesses. The small business sector is a crucial contributor to the health of the overall economy – anywhere in the world – and we know that,” said Prime Minister Douglas.

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