FOR A SMALL BUSINESS, exporting its goods and services can be considered vital to its growth and development; however the challenge lies in getting many the funding necessary to take that step.

This suggestion has come from Chief Executive Officer of the Small Business Association, Lynette Holder who says the body, which is the island’s non-governmental, non-profit representative agency for micro, small and medium enterprises, is doing its part to facilitate SMEs spreading their wings outside of Barbados.

“There is this view that a business that would normally export is one that can be considered a large company, but this is not entirely true. Here in Barbados, according to some figures that I have seen, since 2009, there has been some growth in terms of the exports that SMEs are doing,” she explained.

According to Holder, in 2008 when the SBA started its export programme, between 7 to 9 percent of its membership was exporting goods or services.

Based on that, we thought that that number could be a bit better and so we started our export thrust, conducting training workshops and seminars with them, in an attempt to help build their capacity and by extension, increase their export chances. As that effort continued, we over time saw that the low numbers that were there initially, we were seeing initially increasing with more small businesses venturing into markets outside of Barbados, as many of them diversified their clientele,” she explained.

The Small Business Association (SBA) is the island’s non-governmental, non-profit representative body for micro, small and medium enterprises. The SBA seeks to expand business opportunities for its members, provide educational and developmental services and lobby to ensure an enabling environment for the growth and sustainability of the SME sector.

The SBA’s CEO noted that this was critical as there was some promise from foreign markets as they rebound from the ongoing global economic crisis.

Holder said: “taking advantage of the chance to tap the market at this time can ultimately result in an SME lowering its production cost because if you as an SME has to increase your output as a means of servicing your increased clientele, then logic would have it that your production cost, especially per unit should decrease.

Drawing reference to The Development of Tourism Micro-Projects initiative which started in January 2010, she noted that over its 30-month duration, the joint venture between the Ministry of Tourism, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the SBA, who is the executing agency for the project, saw over US $240,000 in funds from the IDB, under the Multi-Lateral Investment Fund programme focusing on three areas – agro processing, woodwork and Arts and Crafts, and small hotels.

“Specific areas of need will be identified within the three clusters, and appropriate assistance, in an effort to increase productivity and business possibilities. One such area is Agro-processing which has held great growth potential for the local economy for some time now. There are products like our Jams and Jellies, pepper sauce and seasoning which, when you look at the Diasporas in North America, the UK and Europe, that is a ready, willing and waiting market,” Holder said.

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