Scotiabank Supports Rural Businesses
Entrepreneurs in the south of the island had their knowledge broadened on various aspects of business at a seminar organised by the Bank of Nova Scotia and the Centre of Excellence and Sustainable Development (CoESL) based in Barbados.
The theme of the seminar, held at the Ti Rocher Multi Purpose Centre as part of the bank's activity to celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), was “Promoting Entrepreneurship in Rural St. Lucia."
Its aim, according to event coordinator Christine Wilson, was to inculcate in the minds of entrepreneurs in rural communities that they have the ability to overcome the challenges and barriers they may face, and become successful.
“We want to encourage them … and let them know that they can rise above the occasion, despite the challenges which they will face as entrepreneurs,” Wilson said.
The seminar gave the entrepreneurs an opportunity to relate their experiences while trying to develop their businesses, highlighting the challenges they encountered in the process.
This segment was of immense interest to participants, some of whom were in awe as they heard of the tribulations of some of their colleagues.
However, at the end the initial challenges ended up as success stories which served as inspiration to the other participants.
During this session, topics such as funding, markets and the impact of entrepreneurs were also covered.
Officials of Scotiabank emphasised the need for entrepreneurs to keep proper records of their business activities, register their businesses and make it a habit to always make deposits in lending institutions, noting that this would assist them in obtaining loans.
In her remarks, guest speaker Leonese Francois, a resident entrepreneur, dwelt on social change and economic development as it relates to entrepreneurship. She said the objective was to promote and enhance economic development for the benefit of all.
She added that both ideals were critical in dealing with the problem of the migration of people from rural to urban communities.
According to Francois, the lack of employment opportunities in rural areas forced people to migrate to urban areas, and family played a key role in dealing with such issues.
She identified the creation of employment in rural areas by families as one way of addressing the problem.
Francois called on entrepreneurs to trust each other and band together to form businesses, which would result in huge profits for all partners involved.
She lamented that the problem of a lack of trust among entrepreneurs seemed prevalent in the St Lucian society.
According to her, with determination and hard work, the problems entrepreneurs face can be overcome.
Among the participants was Barbara Innocent Charles, a representative of SEDU, who called on the participants to make full use of the services her institution offered, since SEDU provided much needed assistance for persons who need to start a business.
In relating the challenges she faced as an entrepreneur, Daniella Frances Popo, who is in the decoration business, recalled going to a lending institution to seek funding to start her business, and being told by that institution that she was too young to go into business and needed to go to school instead.
“Going into business is not a bed of roses, but you must not give up,” she advised the participants.
She lamented that people in her own community tried to fight her down, adding that while they were trying to do so, people from other communities kept patronising her business and spoke of her service in glowing terms.
Another young entrepreneur, Al Edward, told how when still at school he wanted to be self employed, and had to struggle all along the way to make his dream a reality.
He recalled before going into business he was working at an establishment where the boss was hardly paying him.
“I learnt the hard way. If I did not take it hard I would not learn,” he said.
Edward owns what he calls a mobile shop, which he operates from a bicycle, which he rides throughout his community.
He is working hard trying to make enough money to purchase a vehicle to improve his business.
Scotiabank with partner CoESL is embarking on the Global Entrepreneurship Project with the hope of advancing the region's sustainable development goals.
The Project duration is one year with an option to renew the partnership in year two.
The scope of the "Bridging the Gap" project entails the development and execution of entrepreneurial activities during GEW in not only Saint Lucia but nine other markets in the English speaking Caribbean.
Other islands involved in the project include Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Bahamas, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Kitts Nevis, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Participants and facilitators at the seminar which was held at the Ti Rocher Multi