Sco­tia­bank Sup­ports Ru­ral Busi­nesses

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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

Pur­pose Cen­tre.

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