Small Busi­ness Bureau tagged for key role in 2019 bud­get

Stabroek News - - STABROEK BUSINESS -

With the pro­vi­sions of the 2019 bud­get point­ing in the di­rec­tion of a ma­jor fo­cus on small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment in the new year, gov­ern­ment ap­pears to have handed the Small Busi­ness Bureau (SBB) a ma­jor role in po­si­tion­ing the sec­tor as a fac­tor in en­sur­ing eco­nomic growth and em­ploy­ment gen­er­a­tion in the new year.

On Mon­day, Min­is­ter of Busi­ness Do­minic Gaskin told the Na­tional Assem­bly that the Bureau will as­sume an in­creas­ingly crit­i­cal role in the na­tional re­sponse to the three “main chal­lenges” fac­ing small busi­nesses in Guyana, ‘train­ing, ac­cess to fi­nance and im­proved op­por­tu­ni­ties for small busi­nesses.”

In his post-bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion in the House, Gaskin dis­closed that up to Novem­ber this year the Bureau had been in­stru­men­tal in fa­cil­i­tat­ing train­ing for 948 op­er­a­tors in sec­tors that in­clude cos­me­tol­ogy, soap man­u­fac­tur­ing and sus­tain­able forestry. Ad­di­tion­ally, the Bureau had played an im­por­tant role in sup­port­ing 387 dis­placed GUYSUCO work­ers with train­ing in ar­eas that in­clude plumb­ing, tran­si­tion­ing to farm­ing, cater­ing, sewing and the prepa­ra­tion of loan and grant ap­pli­ca­tions.

Next year, Gaskin told the Na­tional Assem­bly, the agenda of the SBB will in­clude the con­tin­u­a­tion of its ‘lead role” in the busi­ness in­cu­ba­tor pro­gramme and a to­tal of $40 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated for pro­vid­ing fur­ni­ture and equip­ment for the two in­cu­ba­tors that will be­come op­er­a­tional next year.

Also crit­i­cal to the work of the Bureau next year will be its role in build­ing ca­pac­ity among lo­cal small busi­nesses seek­ing to sign on to gov­ern­ment’s 20% con­tract al­lo­ca­tion pro­gramme. In Par­lia­ment on Mon­day Gaskin said that the SBB’s role in this re­gard will in­clude “ba­sic train­ing for manag­ing and op­er­at­ing busi­ness” as well as ‘sec­tor-spe­cific train­ing in­clud­ing green agro-pro­cess­ing, green agri­cul­tural prac­tices and the use of green tech­nolo­gies.” Gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated $18 mil­lion for these types of train­ing next year and is seek­ing to train 660 per­sons over the pe­riod.

At the end of Oc­to­ber this year the SBB’s Mi­cro and Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme, a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of its pro­gramme for small busi­ness fi­nan­cial sup­port came to an end and Gaskin an­nounced that the al­lo­ca­tion of $100 mil­lion to the Small Busi­ness De­vel­op­ment Fund for 2019 “to en­sure that loan guar­an­tees and grants con­tinue un­in­ter­rupted un­til the se­cond phase of the Nor­way-funded Mi­cro and Small En­ter­prise De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme comes on stream”.

The work of the SBB with build­ing a stronger small busi­ness in­fra­struc­ture apart, this year, the Bureau will also be ex­pected to con­sol­i­date work al­ready done to help cre­ate a ro­bust busi­ness cul­ture in the coun­try’s school sys­tem. Its ef­forts dur­ing this year saw the ex­pan­sion of the In-school En­trepreneur­ship Pro­gramme in­clud­ing the al­lo­ca­tion of $5 mil­lion for grants of up to $30,000 each to al­low for the pur­suit of “real projects” re­lated to their aca­demic stud­ies. A fur­ther $5 mil­lion has been al­lo­cated to pro­vid­ing grants for a sim­i­lar num­ber stu­dents next year.

Mean­while Gaskin dis­closed that next year the Bureau will be seek­ing to dis­burse the re­main­ing six grants of $1 mil­lion each to six small busi­nesses out of a $12 mil­lion Green In­no­va­tion Fund al­lo­cated for the pur­suit of “green busi­ness projects.” An ear­lier al­lo­ca­tion of $1 mil­lion was made to six sim­i­lar projects last year.

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