Even as Gerard Talbot-Paul, acting chairman, National Entrepreneurship Development Company (NEDCO), called for a smoother system to be put in place to foster the growth of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), he said they have borrowed $225 million in the last seven years. He said since the inception of NEDCO's loan programme in August 2002 to 2009, it has disbursed 9,647 loans totalling $225,168,009.
"NEDCO encourages small and micro entrepreneurs to start or expand small businesses that utilise indigenous resources and native talents and skills in non- traditional areas. "These small enterprises carry the potential to contribute to value added activities in the small and medium enterprise (SME) value chain, and have high export potential as branded Caribbean heritage products," Talbot-Paul said. He was speaking at yesterday's launch of Small Business Month (SBM).
Rennie Dumas, Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprises, said Government is aware that small and micro enterprises are experiencing challenges in their operations. "This Government has always recognised the importance of the micro and small enterprises (MSE) sector in national economic development, and has pursued a number of previous initiatives aimed at developing entrepreneurship and MSEs in T&T. "We have always considered MSEs as a viable mechanism for promoting entrepreneurial culture a viable base for employment generation as well as a primary vehicle for poverty eradication," Dumas said.
The theme of the 2010 Small Business Month is "celebrating the creativity and contribution of small business to national development". The month of celebration is expected to include workshops, competitions for secondary and tertiary students and prizes for exemplary small business. Dumas reminded the scores of business entrepreneurs that the Government accommodated MSEs in the fiscal package for 2009/2010.
"The announcement of increases in the granting of loans for MSE development in this year's budget will certainly fulfil the increasing needs of existing and new MSE clientele," Dumas said. Citing figures from the Central Statistical Office, Dumas said there are approximately 80,000 small business in T&T, including agriculture-based operations; they make up more than 90 per cent of all businesses; they contribute more than 45 per cent of gross domestic product; they employ about 75 per cent of total private sector employment; and are producers of more than 85 per cent of local food resources.