ONE STOP SHOP

ONE STOP SHOP – BASIL SPRINGER COLUMN WHICH APPEARED IN THE BARBADOS ADVOCATE’S BUSINESS MONDAY ON JULY 16, 2012

Jesus said to him: “If you are able! All things can be done for the one who believes.” – Mark 9:23

Every country in the world is interested in the growth of its economy which is necessary for sustainable development. It is not sufficient, however, because there are also spiritual, physical, cultural and social factors that are very important; without a strong economy our whole daily existence may be compromised because of the failure to acquire basic needs.

The only way to achieve economic growth on a sustained basis is one successful enterprise after another. Therefore, logically, the focus has to be on the development of the enterprise. One has to ensure that not only do the contributing productive sectors remain alive but also that the plethora of potential ideas, regardless of sector, grows the economy beyond the market footprint of the country.

This is particularly true in the context of small states or emerging economies. The two other essential elements which would allow these ideas to flourish are adequate finance and shepherding (leadership and management resources). Given the idea, the finance and the shepherding, there is the opportunity to get on a course of recovery and growth. If we are able, all things can be done once we believe.

The roles of the players in the economy, i.e. the Government, private sector, the trade unions, NGOs and other members of civil society, must be carefully delineated as we try to combine these resources in the best interests of sustainable development for the country.

The private sector’s role is to do business; the Government’s role is to provide regulatory and service functions, which include legislation, incentives and appropriate development finance in support of a user friendly enabling environment with macro-economic benefits as the expected return; the trade unions should focus on enhancing productivity through a sound relationship between employer and employee for fair compensation; and all other members of the national team should contribute to supporting the initiatives of the primary players.

Week before last, I was privileged to attend a stakeholder consultation, mounted by the Ministry of Industry, Small Business and Rural Development, which is just about one year old, in support of the “one stop shop” concept. This concept was promoted by Permanent Secretary Ruth Blackman to rationalise the provision of all of the Government enterprise development inputs under one Ministry. This was formally reported by the Broad Street Journal on June 19, 2012 as follows:

“There are over 11,000 micro and small businesses operating in the ‘formal sector’ in Barbados, comprising about a quarter (or 30,000 jobs) of the work force. But there are believed to be many more in the ‘informal’ sector, and little is known of their contribution to the economy in terms of employment, competitiveness and earning of foreign exchange…an ‘engine of growth’ for the economy. At present, it is the sector where employment is being created on a sustained basis as more persons are seeing entrepreneurship as a viable option for employment especially as a result of the recession, which is making it difficult for persons to become wage earners…there has been a change in the Barbadian mindset regarding entrepreneurship, as seen in sub sectors such as information and computer technology and cultural industries (including craft and the culinary arts).”

PS Blackman advised that her Ministry would meet shortly with ‘stakeholders’ as it seeks to establish a Small Business Development Centre, which she said would be a “one-stop shop” for small businesses. Also, she said that the ‘short-comings’ of the Small Business Act had been recognised and it was to be reviewed. She thought that this could very well result in the Act being repealed and replaced with legislation which takes MSMEs into consideration in their entirety and that these changes will pave the way for further access to financing, the most frequent challenge articulated by the sector. The stakeholders were unanimous in their recommendation that the terminology “Enterprise Development Centre” should replace “Small Business Development Centre” so as to more accurately represent the thrust towards national economic development.

This one shop stop concept in terms of Entrepreneurship development does mean that an entrepreneur can go to one Ministry and be guided as to what is necessary and what institution, public or private sector, they should go to seek assistance in the development of their enterprises. What is needed in terms of money and management in support of their idea, will be addressed and, hopefully, as part of the management process they will be assigned a shepherd who can guide them systematically on their journey from idea to sustainable business success.

This “one stop shop” concept is long overdue not only in the context of enterprise development, but also in the context of facilitating foreign investors who seek to contribute to growth in a given country. Some progress has been made by Invest Barbados in this regard. It is also useful to extend the thought to, say, the food sector where currently in Barbados the responsibilities of food production, agro-processing, and food importation are in different Ministries thus creating layers of additional bureaucracy and inefficiency which hinder rather than help the decision making process.

There is an instrument which I am currently promoting, in support of the shepherding process, branded as the ManoBiz Matrix™, which has value in terms of a gap analysis tool as well as an action planning tool and is, therefore, invaluable to persons who want to efficiently implement business management of their enterprise.     (Dr. Basil Springer GCM is Change-Engine Consultant, Caribbean Business Enterprise Trust Inc. – CBET – Columns are archived at  www.cbetmodel.org).

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