The positive impact of the COVID-19 pandemic
Christmas Message from Chairman of the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc, Mr. Bernard Hamilton
The havoc wreaked by the COVID-19 pandemic in terms of the loss of lives and livelihoods has characterized much of the year 2020 resulting in unprecedented trauma and disruptions the world over. Micro and small business operators everywhere have experienced the brunt of the economic and financial meltdown arising from this global health crisis.
In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, while we have so far been spared the ravages of the pandemic, several of our businesses have been impacted negatively due to the social distancing and other restrictions enforced by the authorities and, in some cases, businesses were forced to downsize their operations and adjust to the new reality.
Fortunately, the COVID relief financial assistance offered by the Government – through programmes such as Promoting Youth Micro Enterprises (PRYME), the Farmers Assistance Programme, etc. – has helped to cushion the impact and provided a safety net for several businesses. The CED, as part of its developmental mandate, welcomed this timely initiative and has been actively engaged with other stakeholder organizations over the past nine months in the execution of some of these assistance programmes.
As eager as we are to put the year 2020 behind us, and as we look forward to the year 2021 with hope and cautious optimism – encouraged by the discovery of a COVID vaccine – the lessons and opportunities of the past year should not be lost on us. The post-COVID environment will certainly require our micro and small businesses to make radical adjustments to their existing mode of production and operation if they are to remain relevant and competitive. In many ways the COVID pandemic, apart from the devastation it has caused, has in fact created – through rapid advances in information technology – unprecedented opportunities for the development of the micro and small business sector. Increasingly, cyberspace will become the operating theatre for the realization of business transactions and already we are witnessing how virtual business environments are helping business breakthrough physical barriers in order to deliver quality products and services.
The Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. (CED) will also be challenged to adjust to this new reality but remains committed to its mandate to provide much needed technical assistance and business advice to micro and small business operators, particularly at this time of immense challenges. We intend to work closer with the different stakeholder organizations in ensuring that the benefits provided under the different funding programmes have the widest social and economic impact and that livelihoods across St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be enhanced.
As we celebrate and spread the message of good cheer this Christmas season, we must spare a moment to commiserate and extend solidarity with our counterparts and colleagues in other parts of the world where the corona virus illnesses and deaths continue to spiral.
I sincerely wish on behalf of the Board of Directors, Management and Staff of the Centre for Enterprise Development Inc. (CED), to extend Merry Christmas greetings to all our customers, stakeholders and the public in general and wish all a Happy and prosperous COVID-Free 2021!