Businesses Need Access To Capital, Support
NASSAU, The Bahamas — Khaalis Rolle, Minister of State for Investments in the Office of the Prime Minister, said the only way for the country to generate enough activity to employ 43,000 persons is to allow small and medium sized businesses to have access to capital and to give them technical support.
Mr Rolle was speaking at an International Trade and Financing Seminar co-sponsored by the U. S. Embassy, The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) and the Grand Bahama Chamber of Commerce. It was held at the Sheraton Nassau Resort, Tuesday, May 22.
Bahamian entrepreneurs who attended the seminar, which was also held in Freeport, Grand Bahama, had an opportunity to gain tangible insights on accessing critical financing to purchase U.S.-made goods.
Mr. Rolle said his experiences as a former president and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and as a small business owner gives him a unique perspective in that he sees every aspect of the challenges associated with business development in the country, especially small business development.
“Businesses over the past couple of years have taken a beating,” he said.
“The environment for doing business has been severely challenged; access to capital has been under strain and technical support has been under strain.
“While I served as president and chairman of the Chamber of Commerce, I was one of the chief advocates for reforming the way we do business, making sure there is second generation legislation designed to support business development and the growth of business in this country.”
Mr. Rolle said he and Winston Rolle, CEO of the BCCEC, worked with the previous government administration to get a package of legislation designed to support the growth and development of small and medium sized businesses.
He explained that the Small Business Development Act is supposed to modernise the legislative approach to small business development.
Mr. Rolle said while it never made it to Parliament, during this government’s term in office, he would see that the legislation gets to Parliament.
“I would like to say that on behalf of the government, we are going to do everything within our power to ensure this legislation gets to Parliament and to ensure that the environment for doing business is greatly improved,” he said.
“We are going to remove a lot of those barriers and we are going to communicate a lot better.”
Mr. Rolle said, “One of the things we have decided to do very early on in our list of activities, is to do a seminar that speaks to what is available for small businesses.”
He added, “We need to inspire business owners to invest. The only way we are going to solve the challenges associated with employment and lack of activity is if we communicate exactly what is available, and we encourage and inspire business owners to put their money to work.”
Chester Cooper, chairman, BCCEC, said the importance of small and medium sized businesses cannot be understated as more than 75 per cent of the companies in The Bahamas fall within that category.
“The capacity of small business to be the leader in employment creation is evidenced in countries like Singapore where 72 per cent of employment is by small business.”
Mr Cooper said, “The Government of The Bahamas has cited a need to create an estimated 43,000 jobs. If each small business is enabled to hire an additional employee, this could put a significant dent in unemployment in a relatively short period of time.”
By Llonella Gilbert
Bahamas Information Services