Compete Caribbean and NCPC To Host PSD Forum on Innovation and Economic Growth in Saint Lucia

Dialogue for PSD and Economic Growth

According to the recent IDB publication “Engine of Growth?”, Caribbean enterprises are performing worse than those in the Rest of the Small Economies (ROSE).  It was estimated that average sales and employment growth of Caribbean firms was only 40 percent and 66 percent, respectively, of ROSE comparators.   Further, Caribbean firms’ performance has worsened over time, and most firms are stagnant, with the proportion of stagnating firms increasing from 50 to 87 percent from 2010 to 2014. It is in this context, that governments and local, regional and international development agencies have been intensifying efforts to support private sector development as a catalyst for growth.

Compete Caribbean is intended to support the region in increasing productivity and Caribbean firms’ contribution to economic growth.  Phase I of the Compete Caribbean (2010-2017), formally concluded at the end of February 2017. According to an end-of-program evaluation, Compete’s 101 technical assistance projects that involved national regulatory or policy reforms, institutional strengthening, and direct support to the private sector and knowledge production generated over 12,000 jobs in the region, increased revenues of firms and clusters by USD$153m (41%), and increased overall exports by USD$37m (23%). Phase II  (2017-2020) is a joint initiative of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Caribbean Development Bank.

In an effort to support the region in increasing productivity levels and Caribbean firms’ contribution to economic growth, Compete Caribbean and Saint Lucia’s National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) are collaborating to host an important dialogue titled “Stimulating Private Sector Development and Economic Growth”.  Executive Director of Compete Caribbean, Dr. Sylvia Dohnert, says this dialogue is an important milestone for the Caribbean region.

“The intention is to not only sensitize stakeholders on the state of private sector development (PSD) in the region and the importance of PSD for economic development but similarly to increase awareness of current private sector development best practices and solutions that have achieved successful outcomes in other countries. We are elated to be collaborating with the NCPC on this initiative. We look forward to working with all stakeholders to create an environment which is increasingly competitive and in which businesses are able to flourish” she said.

Dr. Dohnert elaborated that the Forum provides a strategic platform for the private and public sector, civil society and academia to discuss national PSD priorities within the context of technological change and innovation.

The dialogue will feature presentations on The Imperatives for Innovation, as well as inspiring examples from the Caribbean region that demonstrate how to use innovation to stimulate development and growth. Representatives from local and regional agencies are expected to attend this event. These include members of professional associations, financial institutions, entrepreneurship associations, academia, non-governmental organizations and the public sector.

 

Creative Ways of Funding Your Business

Business Funding- Magnet

Saint Lucia is characterized by a youthful population. This means that thousands of young persons are entering the labour force yearly. As such, job opportunities for young persons are very limited and this has resulted in a youth unemployment rate of 38.4% in 2016. The answer to this crisis lies within entrepreneurship. Young persons are usually creative in their ways of thinking and solving problems. As such, this creativity can be used to create business opportunities for themselves as well as creating jobs for other young persons.

In order to start and operate a business, funding is essential. Securing financing, however, in this tough economic climate can be challenging due to the high risk levels involved in starting and operating a business. More importantly, entrepreneurs are required to have collateral in order to borrow. This, while proving to be problematic for potential young entrepreneurs should not be a deterrent.

Many successful business owners have started their business from scratch with little funding. For example, British business man- Chris Dawson has shown that selling goods from a suitcase can lead to big things, founding The Range (homeware) in 1988. His chain of discount stores made £88 million profit in 2014. Entrepreneurs are usually creative in nature and can come up with innovative ways of funding their ventures.

Young entrepreneurs will have great business ideas but because of lack of capital are discouraged to execute the plan. It is important to note that if the business idea is not comprehensive and well thought out, no amount of money will turn it into a success. Therefore, if an entrepreneur has a business idea but may have little money, that should not be a constraint to starting the business. This may require long days with little sleep. However, those who want it bad enough will make it happen.

The following are some tips on how to start your business with little funds:

Tell everyone about the business. Inform everyone that you know about your business including friends, family, business contacts and past colleagues. Call, send emails, attend free networking sessions also make the business known on social media. Friends and family can help you spread the word, and past colleagues can introduce your company to their professional contacts as well. This type of grass roots marketing can introduce your business to a much larger audience.

Get ready to work hard. When you are starting a business with little to no capital, you must be prepared to dedicate everything that you have into making the business a success. This involves cold calling, handling customer support, dealing with billing and accounting and other parts of the business. You may have to wear many hearts in order to start off the business.

Look for strategic investors. Strategic investors are the best type of investors you could find for your business because their interests align with your start up.  In assisting your business, there is some benefit to their business. For example, a hair dresser with a huge salon may give a nail technician some space to set up, either at a concessionary rate or free of charge. This is a way of marketing the hair salon to the clients of the nail technician and thus helping to expand the business.

Start at home.  Bill Gates successfully started his business in his garage. Depending on the line of business, a great way to save money is to run your business in a location that will not require you to pay extra rent. It will not look glamorous but will help you to get the job done without spending extra money.  In recent years, the Taiwanese government has been encouraging entrepreneurs to start businesses at home. This is a way of helping them decrease on their overheard costs which ensures the survival of the start-up business.

Start part- time. If you will need a steady income to meet your financial obligations, it is therefore advisable to start the business as a part time venture. Do not quit the job until the part time business has a steady flow of customers and profits.

Although it is true that generous funding, a team of investors, or family with deep pockets can make starting a business venture easier, not having money should not be a deterrent. If you are confident that you have a product or service people want, don’t allow the lack of money to dissuade you from your business goals. By pivoting, grinding it out, getting creative, and differentiating yourself, you can bootstrap your way to a successful business.

A Healthy Body is A Productive Body

doctor-patient-army

The idea of productivity seldom conjures up thoughts of eating healthy and staying fit. The truth however, is that without a healthy body, one cannot be productive. Generally when we speak of productivity, reference is made to improving on time management, working efficiently, and making effective use of our scarce resources. 

It is also critically important for the country’s workforce to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our people are an important endowment that Saint Lucia is blessed with and making productive use of our human resources is essential in promoting productivity as well as competitiveness.  Therefore, we need a workforce that is well qualified and healthy.

In today’s fast-paced world, the idea of eating a balanced diet and maintaining an exercise regimen can seem like a luxury rather than a necessity. However, in the long run, taking the time needed to eat well-balanced meals and to exercise regularly increases productivity.

Studies recently conducted at University of Los Angeles have found that many individuals employed within the business sector are falling sick due to poor diets and the lack of exercise. The result of this is ultimately a loss of productivity within organisations due to days lost as a result of persons being away from work.

Within the publication ‘Smart Business’, Dr. David Heber, professor of medicine and director of the UCLA Centre for Human Nutrition states,

‘By not being active, many are losing muscle and putting on fat because they tend to eat the same amount of food that they ate before. Skipping meals doesn’t really help (either) because your body tends to compensate later. Also, by skipping meals, you often don’t get the vitamins, minerals and protein that you need. The end result is that you lose muscle and gain fat, usually around the middle. This leads to a lot of serious problems. An example of which is ‘metabolic syndrome’. This is a form of high blood pressure, high blood fats and high blood sugar. It occurs in about 50 percent of people between the ages of 40 and 60. It can lead to heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and cancer.’

What can we do about this? Dr. Heber believes the solution is a simple one- eat a healthier diet, (which means a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables), and exercise about 30 minutes a day. He stresses that from a business perspective, an employee’s health is vital to productivity. For this reason, people should not skip lunch due to a meeting, or ignore sleep with the intention of finishing a report.

‘The brain requires blood glucose, or sugar from food and it also needs the protein that you find in foods. So when people don’t eat, the number one thing that happens is that they become less energetic, less able to think clearly and less able to do their jobs. Productivity will go down when you’re not eating properly. Nutrition is very important for mental activity, maintaining productivity.

For those employed within a profession that demands physical activity, it is even worse. Anyone employed in such a job requires very good nutrition, exercise and rest or they will lose the muscles needed and possibly suffer an injury’.

Although employers can play a major role in encouraging their employees to be healthier, the onus truly lies on the individual to recognise that performing at full potential requires attention being paid to one’s health.

Recently in a post for linkedin.com called ‘Productivity Hacks- It’s All In The Eyes’, entrepreneur Richard Branson discussed how his eye sight at one time limited his productivity.  He found a solution through the use of reading lenses. Even with this being the case, Branson still practices certain measures that as a businessman enable him to function positively and productively throughout the day. He writes,

‘As so many of us spend hours glued to our mobile, laptop or tablet screens, if you aren’t careful you can damage your creativity as well as your eyes. By resting your eyes from the screen you can also relax your mind and create the space to come up with new ideas.

Look at your emails in bursts, don’t constantly check them all day or you will never get anything done. Manage your mobile, don’t let it manage you. And remember to look after your body – including your eyes! You’ll soon see you get lots more done, feel healthier and can read all about it’.

About the National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC)

Established in October 2013, The National Competitiveness and Productivity Council (NCPC) is responsible for the identification of key issues related to competitiveness and productivity in Saint Lucia.

The NCPC and its Technical Secretariat is committed to providing the necessary advocacy and research to produce timely and effective recommendations to policymakers on issues that affect both competitiveness and productivity on island. For more information about productivity or on the NCPC, visit www.stluciancpc.orgwww.facebook.com/stluciancpc ,call 468-5571/5576 or send an e-mail to stluciancpc@gmail.com