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Honourable Lindsay Grant, the minister responsible for International Trade, Industry and Commerce, noted that 1,300 persons have benefited from general technical assistance provided by the SBDC, which covers areas such as business plan development, business training, assistance with import duty concession applications, and general business counselling.
“The ministry continues to look for every opportunity to enhance the scope and level of support services available to entrepreneurs and as such we continue our capacity-building efforts to ensure that staff at the SBDC is equipped to deliver meaningful and tangible interventions,” Minister Grant said on Tuesday, December 17, 2019, while contributing to the Budget 2020 debate.
Government has encouraged and facilitated entrepreneurship, considering it an integral component to the progressive advancement of the local economy. Since September 2015, government has assisted hundreds of businesses to start or expand their operations by enabling access to concessionary funding, as well as technical assistance. The Fresh Start Loan Programme implemented through the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis was a key component of this strategy as it provided support for Micro-, Small-, and Medium–Sized Enterprises (MSMEs).
Initiatives such as the Fresh Start Loan Programme, and the rebranding of the National Entrepreneurial Development Division (NEDD) to the SBDC, have been very impactful. At a press conference earlier this month, Prime Minister Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris, shared data from the Ministry of Finance that indicated that as at the end of October 2019, there were 601 approvals granted for business licence applications. Dr. Harris said that this is the largest approval ever in history. Additionally, statistics from the St. Christopher and Nevis Social Security Board indicated that there were just under 1,500 active employers in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The positive momentum is set to continue.
“The SBDC will be shortly launching its new service in the form of a strategy planning service and this will allow small businesses to strategically outline their businesses showing their desired outcomes and consequently, the appropriate intervention will be advanced by the Centre to ensure that we have effective and efficient management practices employed to optimize business success,” Minister Grant said.
The minister added that strategic relationships with other line ministries within the public sector as well as private sector institutions will be strengthened to “ensure the delivery of an all-embracing and holistic method of technical advice and assistance.