BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Monday February 27, 2012 – Small businesses in Barbados, Belize, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Lucia, are poised to receive assistance to improve their competitive edge.
That’s because the Organization of American States (OAS) has launched a project to establish Small Business Development Centres in each of the member states to assist with improving their competitiveness.
OAS general secretary, Jose Miguel Insulza said it was recognized that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region were major contributors to employment, accounting for 70 per cent of jobs, and more than 50 per cent of the gross domestic product.
The general secretary stated: “With the right support and a structured, sustainable framework, these businesses can play an even more important role in the production network offering numerous opportunities for increased prosperity and poverty alleviation throughout the CARICOM region.”
Deputy Director of the Caribbean Export, one of the partner organisations for the project, Escipion Oliveira, said the project will give assistance both socially and economically to the SMEs.
“It is now the time to diversify our economy and in believing in ourselves and developing the internal market of the Caribbean,” he said.
Under the project, SMEs will be able to access expert advice, training and mentoring programmes to give them guidance in growth and competitiveness. It however has a special focus on empowering women who work in the SMEs.
The project was implemented in the United States and has recorded success for the last 35 years through a partnership between government, the universities and the private sector.
The Caribbean programme was implemented by the OAS Executive Secretary of Integral Development, and is supported by the University of Texas at San Antonio and the Caribbean Export Development Agency. It is funded by the United States Mission to the OAS.
The programme has already been implemented in Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Dominican Public, Honduras, Costa Rica and Panama, and in the United States. There are currently 1, 100 centres that help businesses to expand international trade opportunities.