By Ketricia Finch

St. Kitts Reporter

The organising ministries of Social Development and Agriculture, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) held the official opening of the Business Modeling and Marketing Techniques for Micro or Small Businesses workshop at OTI on Monday.

The CTCS is a service of the CDB that is currently managed through the bank’s private sector development division. This five-day program targets individuals including ex-sugar workers (former SSMC workers) who are currently operating or wish to manage small businesses of their own.

Kenneth Harvey, technical assistant of the CDB, said there would be two workshops for the week. The first would be for three days and the second for two. He said they would focus on low cost marketing techniques.

“The workshops together are designed to make you think from scratch about a business idea. Most importantly, the workshops are designed to encourage you to think outside the box,” Harvey said.

Hermia Morton-Anthony, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture said the workshop would aid towards the transformation of our economy, which could become an economy that is mostly comprised of small businesses.

“We recognize that in St. Kitts and Nevis, with the post SSMC and present CSME environment, our people need to be ready in every sense. Therefore, this is a part of the capacity building and separation to deliver in that environment,” Morton-Anthony said.

Morton said it is essential for agricultural workers to be trained to do their jobs effectively.

“We have to ensure that the modeling practice that’s delivered would be conducted with the assumption that many of our SSMC employees need urgent cash and income and that it has to be an underlined practice to their training,” Morton said.

“I want to encourage those who already in businesses, whether you are in the sugar cake or tray business or otherwise, to see this as the advancing of our skills, to make it even more important.”

Harvey thanked the government of the Federation, on behalf of the bank, for the invitation expressed to them to work with the team.

“The CDB is not a stranger to St. Kitts and Nevis,” Harvey said.

“The time has come now where we should more aggressively aid as we believe that the greatest need is now. I urge you not to see this workshop as a brief intervention but to see it as a long relationship between yourselves and the CDB.”

The workshop is designed with the capability of ensuring that every individual taking part understands the process. There will be overtime assistance with any queries or issues persons may face.

Harvey some of the objectives of the program are that the workshop is the first intervention that is used to sensitize a person to any aspired activity and it provides one-to-one direct technical assistance.

“The assistance comes through two modes, either inserted into St. Kitts and Nevis by a consultant joined from one of the other branches of the CDB or from St. Kitts and Nevis, who is also a member of the CDB.”

Harvey said individuals would be given the opportunity if necessary to travel abroad on a hands-on training program apart from training on the island and each individual would be given 15 working days at any time to train.

“If you are coming out of the sugar industry or you are thinking about going into a business of your own especially, see this program as a program that would always be there for you,” Harvey said.

The Honorable Cedric Liburd, minister of agriculture, said development is defined as a dynamic process of improvement that implies a change and evolution, growth and advancement.

“Development as a phenomenon suggests that people are able to control their future and can improve their conditions in the World, whether it’s their living conditions, practices to feed themselves, educational level and life expectancy.”

Liburd said the objective of development is the ability to achieve something better. He said the government is committed towards to development of individuals in society.

“This is not the first time that we are working with the CDB and the CTCS. Previous partnership have been quite successful.”

Liburd said the country has benefited from the partnership and looks forward to an ongoing relationship with the both the CDB and CTCS,” Liburd said.

“At the closure of the sugar industry on July 31, 2005, there were 1500 workers at SSMC. Out of the 1500 workers, there were 300 overseas workers and all of those workers returned to Guyana and the Dominican Republic. Within the 1200 left, there were around 300 workers who reached the retirement age of 62. There were 900 persons left who we had to assist in finding jobs in both St. Kitts and Nevis,” Liburd recounted.

Liburd announced that a study was carried out to investigate the 900 workers across the island to see if all of them were employed. Liburd said at the end of June 2006, there were approximately 65% of those persons with a job.

“The government also provided incentives to assist former sugar workers in getting into their own businesses. I have seen quite a few of them in the bus service and taxi service.”

Liburd said the Ministry of Agriculture had the chance of asking every former sugar worker if they wanted to get into non-sugar agriculture and there was about 146 applications coming from former sugar workers.

“With the support of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Ministry of Agriculture was able to put a project proposal together to assist just over 100 former sugar workers,” Liburd said. Liburd said each participant was given three acres of land each to work on. He said they were provided with assistance and were responsible for preparing the land for whatever crops they wanted to get into.

“The FAO contributed just about US$393,000 or EC$1,000,000 towards to process and that project has started,” Liburd said.

Liburd said that the director of agriculture advised him that the project is going well so far and the government has already started distributing the land.

Liburd said within the past year, there were several training sessions that were geared towards insuring people’s success. Areas of training include sewing, plumbing, carpentry, air conditioning, refrigeration and food processing.

“Successful business development often requires a multi-disciplinary approach beyond just a sale of a customer.”

Sam Condor, Minister of Education, Youth Social, Community Development and Gender Affairs said after the closure of the sugar industry it was relevant to have training exercises such as the one that would be held this week.

“Entrepreneurs are people who trust their own judgement. They are risk-takers, self-reliant and resourceful. They identify opportunities that are not usually seen by others. They come from various backgrounds with an assortment of experiences. The entrepreneur must dream big and take the necessary step to make his or her dreams a reality.”

Condor said as we continue to work towards the development of a diversify economy, entrepreneurs must play unique and vital roles as he or she implements their ideas to reap enormous benefits.

“Opportunities are often available for others towards the creation of employment. Employment helps to raise income levels and improve the standard of living for families, communities and the nation. The existence of small and micro businesses fosters a competitive environment that helps the increase of quality products and services available to consumers.”