BASSETERRE: Prime Minister, Dr. Denzil Douglas, says identifying and grooming small businesspersons is his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour government’s top priority and small and large businesses are needed to improve the Federation’s economy.
“We need foreign investors, and we need local investors,” said Dr. Douglas during his weekly radio program, “Ask the Prime Minister”.
Douglas said that good business ideas, properly developed, marketed and managed, could produce the kind of income streams on which residents of the Federation 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 program 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,” said Douglas.
The Prime Minister said beginning next week, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) will hold a “Business Boot Camp” for the next three weeks 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.
“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,” said Douglas.
The Prime Minister said some of the most successful businesses in the Federation started off in humble circumstances and by today’s standards, many of them would not be considered a micro-enterprise when they were founded.
“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,” said Douglas. “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) Program.”
Through the SEED Program, 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 Program will also provide them with … mandatory business training … 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 Douglas.
The Prime Minister said 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.