Led by the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development, the model, which was adopted from the United States, will run initially as a two-year pilot project with the aim of improving the way business is done.
Among other things, the network which will serve as a resource for people who are seeking to start or develop a small business, should also result in greater partnerships between the public and private sector and learning institutions to help the enterprises realize high returns on investments, increase their sales and retain jobs.
Addressing the launch of the new networking opportunity at the Central Bank, Minister of Youth, Sport and Culture Stephen Lashley said he believed it was “a paradigm shift for Barbados”.
He urged those involved to ensure the delivery of more cost-effective, coordinated, integrated business report of services, enhanced data collection and greater information sharing to inform programming and policy formulation.
Lashley also called for improved customer service, better use of technology and strengthening, monitoring and evaluation systems to more effectively measure impacts, benefits and performance of SMEs.
Stating that he believed the new network would help to “radically transform” the SME sector, Minister of Industry, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville Inniss said ultimately a new business model should be developed with the mantra “all in and none must be left behind”.
“For too long we have managed to convince ourselves that the occasional patch placed on our systemic weakness is an appropriate intervention. We need, in Barbados, a business class that is not afraid to challenge the increasing indifference of the status quo,” he said.
Meanwhile, one of the developmental partners involved, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus Dr Justin Robinson, advised those who use the services to ensure they do so to grow their operations and “get rich”.
So far the Organization of American State (OAS) has assisted about 15 countries in the Caribbean, Latin and South America with setting up business development centre networks.