Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Growth required in region to combat poverty

It is believed that the Caribbean needs to grow much faster if the unemployment and poverty rates are to fall substantially.

Addressing the Fifth Caribbean Microfinance Forum, President of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Dr. Warren Smith pointed out that the growth rates in the Caribbean have been, on average, very low for several decades, and have remained below 3 per cent since the most recent global recession.

“Such low rates of growth have contributed to the persistently high levels of unemployment and poverty in our region. With more than 21 per cent of our population living below the poverty line, accelerating and sustaining inclusive growth is, arguably, one of the most pressing development challenges confronting our region’s leaders, today.”

Speaking on the topic, “Building Growth into The Caribbean Sustainability Agenda – The Role of Entrepreneurship,” Dr. Smith acknowledged that while Governments can have a profound impact on the enabling environment for business, he also believes that the ability of entrepreneurs to grasp opportunities and to convert them into viable business ventures is equally important for economic growth to reach sustainable levels.

According to him, there are several key requirements for successful business ventures.

“First, the operations must be well-managed. A successful enterprise must differentiate itself from its competitors, both in the nature and the quality of the goods and services provided. It should strive to be unique and take advantage of the brand recognition peculiar to its country or region of origin.”

“Second, recognising the small size of regional economies and the inherent difficulties of achieving economies of scale in that environment, our entrepreneurs will need to exploit opportunities in the export markets by forging strategic partnerships with other firms. All businesses in today’s Caribbean must think globally if they are to survive and grow, and if our countries are going to be able to earn the foreign exchange necessary to provide the quality of life to which we all aspire.

If local and export markets are to be retained, and the business is to grow on a sustainable basis, arrangements have to be in place to guarantee a consistency of product quality and a regularity of supply,” he said.

Part of the competitive advantage of small enterprises, the CDB Head added, is their agility and flexibility; their capacity to respond quickly and to adjust to changing tastes and preferences in the market; and their ability to meet the unique requirements of their customer base.

“To sustain this competitive advantage, small firms need to stay close to their customers; have a deep understanding of their requirements; and to identify innovative and cost saving options for continuously meeting their needs.” (TL)

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