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Would-be entrepreneurs should not be discouraged


Tue Mar 17, 2015

Last week, Vincentians learned with sadness of the forced closure of the three KFC restaurants and the lone Pizza Hut Delivery outlet operated by an outstanding local entrepreneur Ormiston ‘Ken’ Boyea. Mr Boyea has distinguished himself in the field of business over the years, and was even awarded for being the Entrepreneur of the Year for Barbados and the OECS in 1996.{{more}}

The closure of the four fast food outlets was occasioned by financial difficulties which Boyea and his company St Clair Investments Ltd had been experiencing, causing his bankers, the Bank of Nova Scotia, to call in receivers. Nearly 200 Vincentians have been put on the breadline and it could not have been at a worse time. There is never a good time for workers to be laid off, but at this time of economic downturn, these unfortunate persons will be challenged to find alternative legal means of income.

For some time now, because of the drastic decline in the quality of the offerings at the KFC outlets, there had been speculation about a possible closure, with reasons even advanced by some who claimed to be ‘in the loop’. But whatever the situation, it is a most unwelcome development for the local private sector and for the local economy.

The indigenous Caribbean private sector is much maligned, but many are unaware of the challenges confronting them to keep afloat in face of the tough economic climate and competition from businesses from outside. Few would doubt that it is in the best interest of the region to have a healthy indigenous private sector and especially, entrepreneurs who are prepared to take risks. Mr Boyea took significant risk when he invested in his building at Arnos Vale, but miscalculated badly, resulting in the action taken by his bankers.

Yet Mr Boyea’s misfortune should not act as a deterrent to young would-be entrepreneurs, who probably looked as this success as an inspiration. His challenges should rather be seen as lessons from which they can learn, as a strong private sector and a marked increase in local entrepreneurship and investment are the only way out of the economic doldrums for our country and region.

Given the high liquidity of banks, interest paid on savings are at their lowest; the ECCU only recently lowering the minimum interest rate payable on deposits to two per cent. So money in the bank is currently not very profitable. Perhaps we need more of a pooling of local resources to spur investment and keep businesses in local hands. There is still not enough of that in the face of the spreading tentacles of foreign capital.

One can only hope, for the sake of all Vincentians, that a way can be found to resolve the KFC situation and to keep the franchise in local hands, or in indigenous Caribbean ones at least. We share the concerns of the workers whose jobs were lost and fear for the domino effect of the closure on the economy should the worst happen.