Small and medium-scale businesses were yesterday urged by Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Greenidge to utilise the technological revolution to improve their fortunes.
Greenidge, who was addressing a gathering of small and medium enterprises (SME) owners at the Small Business Development Finance Trust Inc. (SBDF) 17th Annual General Meeting, encouraged them to ride the wave of the technology and communications advancement to better service themselves and their businesses.
Greenidge, speaking in the stead of Minister of Business Dominic Gaskin, said, “…You don’t have to depend on the nearest wholesale outlets, you can now use computers and smart phones to know what is happening in the markets near and far. You can know what’s happening with their prices and the weather, and when I was in the Netherlands, one of the things we put in place was a market information system that enabled farmers to know at any time of the day what prices exist in the different areas.”
Greenidge stressed that by using technology, SME owners can take advantage of the developments that are taking place around them “and one of the most important is of course in relation to the communication revolution.”
Governor of the Bank of Guyana, Dr Gobind Ganga also shared similar sentiments and encouraged the SME owners to utilise the various social media platforms, including YouTube, to enhance their knowledge and their business.
He also stressed the importance of the SME to the country’s economy and nation building.
“Let me say from the outset that small and medium enterprises are necessary for nation building and form the backbone of the economy,” he said, while explaining that even though SMEs may seem insignificant from the perspective of employment size, they can contribute to as much as 40 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of a country.
“The small scale industries in India have nearly 40 percent share in the total output and 35 percent share in exports. In Canada, where small businesses are defined as businesses employing less than 100 persons, the impact is even more dramatic. Small businesses in Canada make up 98.2 percent of all businesses. They are the engine of the economy and their success is vital to Canada’s prosperity,” Ganga explained.
The Central Bank Governor noted, that in Guyana the SMEs are mostly found in the agricultural sector, mainly dominated by rice farming, livestock and cash crops, and the services sector, which is dominated by distribution services, transport and principal activities, and make up for nearly 96 percent of all activities in the small business sector.
“SME plays a complementary role to a large scale sector and support large scale industries. These businesses provide parts, components, accessories and services to large scale industries and meet the requirements of large scale industries through setting up of units near the large scale units. SMEs serve as ancillaries to large scale units,” he stressed, while stating that SMEs can be engines for innovations.
He said that he sees a bright future for SMEs in Guyana and questioned whether they are ready to harness the challenges and grasp the available opportunities.
“A lot of introspection must be done by SMEs. They have to put their houses in order. One of the challenges I see in the future is that of capacity. With development of the oil sector, human resources which were previously available to the SMEs will gravitate towards the new sector making less workers available to the SME,” he said.
Ganga also added that the future will be knowledge-driven and the knowledge of production, markets, operations, finance and innovation will heavily influence the SME’s future.
He pointed out that another major concern for SMEs will be finance, but he believes that with the government’s focus on small businesses and interest in ensuring that some sectors are not crowded out when oil becomes the dominant sector, incentives and finances will be more readily available for additional support.
“Ladies and gentlemen, while small and medium businesses may not generate as much money as large corporations, they are critical components of, and a major contributor to, the strength of the economy. They present employment opportunities across many sectors and serve as the building blocks for larger operations. They also contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community in which the business is established,” he added, while stating that he believes the future of the SME is entwined in the bright future of Guyana.