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CED Business Gateway Project marks first year

CED Business Gateway Project marks first year

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The Centre for Enterprise Development (CED) Business Gateway Project is one year old. The project celebrated its first anniversary with its leadership reflecting on its impact on the lives of Vincentians, as it aims to strengthen the private sector and equip locals of all walks of life with the necessary tools to start-up or expand their businesses.{{more}}

Monday, November 3, 2008, was a special at the CED’s Bay Street office, as Felix Lewis, CED’s General Manager and Simone Murray, Manager of the European Union funded Business Gateway Project, proudly brought the nation up to date on the Business Gateway’s accomplishments during the past year, as well as the role that the CED is playing in developing the private sector in St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

The CED has the responsibility for executing the Business Gateway Project. This project, along with the STABEX Project and one implemented by the National Investment Promotion Inc (NIPI) is expected to inject funds donated by the European Union amounting to 6.1 million Euros or EC$21,655,000 into the Vincentian economy.

“This is probably the largest single injection of funds in private sector development in the history of St.Vincent and the Grenadines,” said Lewis.

Murray, on the other hand, stated that the Business Gateway Project got started on November 1, 2007; however, its implementation intensified during 2008.

She recalled that the first programme put on by the Project was on financial management focusing on ‘Record Keeping for Businesses’. This with a well attended audience of 28 participants was just one of the many financial management seminars held throughout the year.

Murray said to date, one of the most vibrant areas under the project is that of training and education. This programme has mushroomed into the staging of several seminars such as Costing and Pricing Seminar, Good Manufacturing Practices, Customer Service, Financial Statement Analysis, Budgeting and Forecasting for Business Planning and Risk Management, Customer Service seminars specific to the hotel and hospitality industry as well as general businesses.

She added that the project has also been contributing to Youth Entrepreneurship. Murray recalled that in August this year, the Business Gateway was able to stage an Agri-Business Summer Programme which attracted 22 youths. She said the main aim was to get the participants interested in developing a career in agriculture and not just the farming aspect of it, but in terms of other areas such as agronomy, Poultry Production, and Agriculture in Tourism.

Meanwhile, Lewis, in his overview of the CED operations, said three years ago, on the heels of the closure of the Small Enterprise Development Unit (SEDU), the CED was started. The operations and functions of SEDU were then subsumed into the new CED.

Lewis explained that the CED is mandated to assist with local private sector development in St.Vincent and the Grenadines. He added that the company is a non-profit organization established by the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines to provide a range of business development services and training to the business sector.

Its operations aim at creating, nurturing and strengthening the local private sector. According to Lewis, the beneficiaries of the services are all legal businesses operating in St.Vincent and the Grenadines regardless of size or sector. Other financial institutions such as banks and credit unions are also included, as well as potential entrepreneurs and business owners.

The CED project was designed to address a number of issues, including limited technical capacity and know how; limited institutional capacity of the private sector; limited access to capital; limited timely and reliable business information; lack of enabling and supporting environment for business development; lack of a culture of enterprise and the challenges of trade liberalization and globalization.

Persons who can benefit from the CED project are potential and actual entrepreneurs, those individuals who are affected by the decline in the banana industry, unemployed and underemployed farmers and labourers, out of school youth, and single parents from predominantly female households.

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