The Saint Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA) must be lauded for its efforts over the years to grow the micro and small business sector by providing the necessary tools whereby these businesses could stay the course and play their part in helping move the economy along.
What’s weighing on my mind today is not just the effort SLISBA puts into ensuring that micro and small enterprises get ideas to stimulate themselves, but what SLISBA itself has done to instill in the persons running these businesses how important they are to the country, its development and its economic prosperity.
The aggregated contributions of micro and small businesses to the overall expansion of the financial, social, education and even sporting sectors of the country is significant.
The persons behind this type of entrepreneurship must be recognized not only for the hard work they put in to keep their businesses afloat, to put food on the table for their families, pay the bills — be it their loans, children’s education, family health care etc. – and providing their own incomes but also for growing the economy
Hence the reason why last Saturday night was special, as SLISBA took the opportunity to honour the valued contributions of these micro and small business persons. It was a night of splendor!
What made the night even more so was that the honouring was not posthumous – after they died. In our society, someone is always being remembered, honoured and awarded after having passed.
The categories of micro and small businesses that were considered for awards were refreshing. I simply hope that Saint Lucians, all of us, will now see these persons in a different light.
About 39 persons received awards that night ranging from supermarket of the year to roadside vendor of the year to coconut water vendor of the year. Yes, you read right – coconut vendor of the year. The services these guys provide most times are not recorded in the diary of the minds of most of us. But the commodity they provide is essential to our well-being, our health.
And so as I salute SLISBA I can’t help but ponder that although the dollar amounts may be small for the micro and small businesses they however provide pathways by which families can exit poverty.
As I observed the event last Saturday night at the Coubaril Estate in Soufriere I was reminded that those businesses also create jobs that foster skill development. And skills were on display that night as a very brief bio was read of each awardee.
From the bakery claiming to offer the best bread in the country to the guy who could mend the worst broken down shoe, to the nail technician who could provide the best looking nail design on the planet, the skills were on display that night.
As I end I would like to emphasize that micro and small businesses are very critical to or are critical resources to the community in which they are located. The community of Soufriere comes to mind and also that of Choiseul. Need I say more?