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T&T Chamber president: SMEs can learn from successful nationals
Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) make an important contribution to T&T’s economy and increased emphasis must be placed on their sustainable growth, Moonilal Lalchan, president of the T&T Chamber of Commerce, said yesterday. “According to the draft SME policy for T&T, SMEs contribute to 28 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP). They represent more than 20,000 enterprises, employ 200,000 persons and make up 85 per cent of all registered businesses.
“Given these statistics and understanding that SMEs are the highest potential growth and employment source, and we have placed on our strategic agenda the development of the SME sector,” he told participants at the Chamber’s two-day SME conference at the Hyatt Regency in Port-of-Spain. Lalchan admitted that making SMEs sustainable was “a goal difficult to realise as we live in an era of rapid change.”
He said: “More than ever, SMEs have to develop, co-exist and thrive in a digital, borderless, highly competitive and greener world. It is imperative that these businesses take advantage of learning new technologies from more experienced nationals and multi-nationals, giving them the competitive edge and opportunity to enter new markets regionally and internationally.” Lalchan said SME’s could learn from T&T nationals who have lived abroad and are successful.
“So we can all grow our enterprises from a small operation run from our garage to launching an international IPO. I am sure you all know the story of Facebook, so you know this is quite possible for innovation and job creation capacity. To grow and become more competitive, we must look at how larger organisations and how the Government can look at SMEs and what they need, which is a more business-friendly environment, less red tape, better and more varied access to finance and fewer obstacles to cross border activity,” he said.
Jerome Chambers, chairman of the Chamber’s Nova committee, urged SMEs to think big. “For every problem or need that you can identify in the market, create a solution that is uniquely you, uniquely Caribbean. Just do not make sugar cake, create sugarcake.com, or how about a nutmeg infused tea?” he suggested.