Ministry of Employment seeking to implement Small Business Development Centres on island

The Ministry of Employment, Trade and Industry is implementing a training program for the establishment of Small Business Development Centres in Dominica.

This is in collaboration with the Organization of American States, Caribbean Export, and The Institute for Economic Development at the University of Texas and The U.S. Government.

The training aims to use the small business development centre model as a means of improving the competitiveness and the success of Dominica’s micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) sectors in regional and international markets.

Alexander Stephenson is the Executive Director of the Employment and Small Business Support Agency.

In his address at the opening ceremony on Wednesday, he indicated that his agency’s fundamental role is to broaden and improve the assistance services of the small business sector.

According to Stephenson, this training aims to develop the capacity and skills of Dominica’s entrepreneurs.

“This training brings us here this morning to develop the capacity and skills set for Dominica and the confidence for adapting and implementing the small business development model that is being pioneered by The Institute for Economic Development within the University of Texas in San Antonio for over 30 Years in the Americas.”

Stephenson further commented that the Ministry wants for Dominican small businesses to take leading roles in the island’s development.

He encouraged small business owners to make use of the small business development centres to promote and develop their respective businesses.

“If you have the product you need the packaging, you might probably need some raw material, and you might need particular machinery designed or modified.  It’s very easy for you to tap into because there is a huge rich database as well as a web platform that you could place orders with; you could also raise queries and get the assistance you need.  It’s totally different so instead of reinventing the wheel at the employment and small business agency we felt that it is absolutely necessary to adapt to something that has been proven to be successful and very flexible.”

Marisa Roberts, OECS Representative, explained that the model looks to teach local business owners how to strengthen the institutions already operating in Dominica to better serve local MSME sectors.

According to a release from organisers, the second module of the training seeks to define the role of the SBDC in the economic development of the region while module three will review the structure and role of the SBDC project team.

Cliff Padris, a Representative of the University of San Antonio, emphasised that although the four month training will provide participants with the necessary tools it is ultimately their own responsibility to achieve success.

“This model is not prescriptive so there is no massive book that we give you that says how to run an SBDC or what services to provide.  That responsibility is on you.  So we are going to be sharing how we operate our centres. It’s very flexible.  We will also focus on results. What you will be doing during the whole four modules is to think how you would adopt this for our country for our local market context. Where are we going to be operating our centres and so there is little more responsibility on you.”

The SBDC model is the main source of technical and managerial assistance for small businesses in the United States.