February 15, 2007



On Monday 12/2/07 I met with Officials of the Office of Private Sector Relations(OPSR) and left the meeting in very high spirit upon being sensitised about the programmes that they are about to roll out to the private sector of St. Lucia. In the words of one of the Officials and I quote “You cannot get away from poverty unless you have an Enterprise Culture”, I don’t care if this was his original statement or one being borrowed, this statement encourages me greatly, coming from someone who can make a difference in the fortunes of SMEs through the organization he represents.

I was further heartened by the fact that the original programmes of OPSR are continuing. I encourage businesspersons to take advantage of the three types of interventions, Business Diagnostic, Business/Strategic Plan and Implementation. It is important for businesspersons to confirm to the business rules of engagement in today’s world. A Business Plan is a vital document for guiding a business and when approaching financial institutions. This plan must be fresh in the Entrepreneur’s mind and be updated on an annual basis.

The need for businesspersons to come together and participate in their Industry Associations cannot be over emphasized. With every passing day, the opportunities are moving away from the SMEs sector and heading straight to big businesses. The reason is simple. It is the Magic of Money. If businesspersons are to take advantage of quantity discounts and distribution rights, they will have to invest substantially. We must see a coming together of the players in the SME sector and a movement to Group Purchasing, Group Marketing, Joint Ventures and Publicly Traded Companies. Co-operatives can well be a first step.

In the area of IT businesses and other businesses that require the taking of risks, there is need for a Penny Stocks market. We were promised by Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange (ECSE) the introduction of Small Caps to facilitate start up IPOs. The things that are necessary to take us to the level of being business savvy must be done now, not tomorrow, because we are already living at first world level. Our lifestyles have been upgraded and if we are to enjoy our successes in a state of wellness, our cash flow situation must improve.

There is too much stress in our environment and we are already paying the price with such illnesses as diabetes and hypertension, and broken marriages and relationships. There are too many bills to be paid. Money is the root cause of all of these problems. Initiatives to free up the financial market/services must be implemented. We must empower citizens to get involved in businesses. Multi-Level Marketing can be a success in St. Lucia and the rest of the region if the customs levies are removed. Hundreds of persons could be employed full time and part time. The cruise ship passengers can be targeted with some products. Something must be done to provide more opportunities to earn an extra income. The need for a second job is real.

All the emphasis is being placed on consumer credit and not enough on business development. I welcome the suggestion of re-introducing a Development Bank in St. Lucia and look forward to its implementation. I am hoping that the architects do not attempt to remove the risk element for which the success of such an institution will depend. It is all about managing risks and not playing it safe. I am not saying to cast caution out to the wind but be flexible and do not dwell on those who swindled such institutions in the past but rather the business at hand. One Bank Official is on record as saying that the bank has long memory. That is not the way business is done. Ask Donald Trump? We must begin to look at failure in a different light. Some people are prepared for great success by previous failures.

Why is technology given a back seat? I am repeating my call for an Innovation and Technology Secretariat to initiate a serious entry into the world of technology where the internet is the engine of great fortunes. To prepare for this area of activity creative ways of funding these projects will have to be introduced so it is only the right level of financing that will see us through and ensure a place in the world of business for the small man.

You can catch up on my internet picks at Join the group and participate in the projects.

By the time this issue gets to the newsstands, Valentine will be a memory. Whether you are in love or not, if you are old enough to have experienced love at one time or another, even if it is a memory, I wish you had a Happy Valentine!

Keep the Faith, God is in Charge, Expect Miracles in 2007!

Edward Harris Email:

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