GOVERNMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
SPEAKING NOTES OF
THE HONOURABLE KAMLA PERSAD-BISSESSAR, S.C., MP
PRIME MINISTER OF THE REPUBLIC OF TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE 10TH BRANCH (PENAL) OF THE NATIONAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LIMITED (NEDCO)
1ST IBIS COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT THROUGH ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT (CEED) CENTRE
27-29 Bhupsingh Street SS Erin Main Rd, Penal
Monday 25th February 2013
(CHECK TO DELIVERY)
• The Honourable Errol Mc Leod – Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development
• Ministers of Government
• His Excellency Mr. Malay Misra, High Commissioner of India
• His Worship, Orlando Negassar, Mayor of Chaguanas
• Mr Gopaul Boodhan, Deputy Mayor of Chaguanas
• Chairmen of the Penal and Siparia Regional Corporations
• Mr. Carl Francis, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development
• Dr Natasha Ramkissoon, Chairman and Board of NEDCO and other Directors of the Board
• Members of the IBIS Advisory Board
• Other representatives of the public and private sectors
• Distinguished clients of NEDCO and IBIS
• Specially invited guests
• Representatives of the media
• Ladies and Gentlemen
I am deeply honoured to be present here today, to participate in an event which supports the overarching goal of my Government for the people of Trinidad and Tobago – the creation of “Prosperity for All”.
Ladies and gentlemen, this afternoon we celebrate not only the milestone of the opening of the 10th branch of the National Entrepreneurship Development Company Limited (NEDCO); but I believe, more significantly, the establishment of the first Community Empowerment through Enterprise Development or (CEED) Centre, a community based business incubator.
Moreso, I anticipate that today’s launch has the potential to help stimulate our economy, by encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial initiative and innovation.
NEDCO / IBIS programme
In October 2011, I was privileged to launch the National Integrated Business Incubator System (IBIS), as the programme began the process of pre-incubator training for selected candidates in key principles of entrepreneurship, including marketing, accounting and operations management.
As you may be aware, IBIS is important because it treats with enterprise development at two levels- the community level, where community based business incubators will focus on the creation of new businesses, within communities and the national level where commercial business incubators, using the public-private partnership model, will support business ideas which have the potential to earn very high profitability.
NEDCOs mandate to offer loan financing and training to support the small and micro enterprise sector is understandably very important, and this 10th branch in Penal certainly fills a gap in the needs of the residents of the Penal/Debe/Siparia region.
However, the establishment of the CEED Centre is tangible evidence that my Government recognizes the invaluable role of entrepreneurial activity, and successful entrepreneurs to the diversification of our economy.
But the synergy between the branch and the Centre is evident and indeed NEDCO is charged by its parent Ministry with the responsibility to implement the IBIS programme.
With the new Board appointed by my Government, NEDCOs performance has been improving over the past two years and I have the utmost faith that the company and the programmes under its portfolio will enjoy continued growth and success.
Ladies and gentlemen, research has shown that it is necessary to encourage entrepreneurship at every level, and more specifically at the micro and small enterprise level, as this sector typically accounts for more than 90% of all businesses in any country.
This and other CEED Centres – I ask you to note that a second CEED Centre has been completed and will be soon launched in Sangre Grande – are a core component of the IBIS programme.
They will provide the physical facilities for clients to operate their businesses, while also receiving mentoring and other professional and administrative support, during the period they are in the Centre.
In addition, clients of the Centre have received seed loan capital and equipment financing investments of up to one hundred thousand TT dollars ($100,000) from IBIS, to help them with their businesses.
IBIS provides these services to individuals regardless of their academic, economic or social backgrounds. It focuses on one thing – helping those who are interested in and committed to getting into business, to get into business and so too, increase their own revenue stream.
I want to congratulate Minister Mc Leod and the teams from NEDCO, IBIS and the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development for keeping the dream of self-sufficiency, prosperity and business ownership alive for the many entrepreneurs I know we have in this country.
Ladies and gentlemen I have said it before and today I reiterate – entrepreneurs are risk takers. They are observant. They keep their ears to the ground, always ready to seize opportunities.
And my Government stands ready to support and fuel the fire of ambition of these innovators.
Other Initiatives within the micro and small enterprise sector
I am proud to state that in our efforts to encourage entrepreneurship, we have introduced a number of key initiatives targeted to benefit the micro and small enterprises sector.
As well as IBIS, we have the Fair Share programme also under the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development, which allows small businesses and Co-operatives access to public sector contracts up to a maximum of one million TT dollars.
We have the i2i – Ideas 2 Innovation – project of the Innovation Fund, which is administered by the Council for Competitiveness and Innovation at the Ministry of Planning and Sustainable Development.
This project challenges the creativity and ingenuity of our aspiring entrepreneurs to invent, innovate and conceive ideas with commercial potential.
I am advised that this, what I will call entrepreneurial space, which houses the NEDCO Penal branch and the CEED Centre is capable of supporting some 10-14 clients in the Centre.
I understand that the first four clients have finalized arrangements and will soon begin operating from this Centre.
I wish to commend those persons and I wish them every success in their new, exciting ventures.
Opportunities for women
At a more personal level, I am heartened to learn that women are taking full advantage of these entrepreneurial initiatives.
I am told that of the thirteen (13) clients who completed the pre-incubator training for this Centre, five (5) are women.
In Sangre Grande, there are thirteen (13) women out of twenty-four (24) graduates from the pre-incubator training in that community.
It is refreshing to know that a number of women are staking their claim in the business world.
Once again, I congratulate the Ministry and IBIS for developing such a programme which creates these options for women entrepreneurs – allowing them to be independent and to provide for themselves and their families.
Deterrent to crime and criminal activity
Ladies and gentlemen my Government is gravely concerned with the upsurge in violent crime we are witnessing in this country and indeed in the Caribbean Region.
As you know issues of crime and security dominated discussions at the CARICOM Heads of Government inter-sessional meeting, held in Haiti last week.
Even as agreements were reached on a Regional approach to combat gang and gun violence and other related matters, each leader was well aware that country specific internal interventions were also required.
We are losing too many of our citizens, particularly our young people to the scourge of crime both as victims and perpetrators.
With all the opportunities that are now available in this country, including options like the IBIS programme, we must as individuals, communities and as a Nation channel the energies and talents of our young people to more positive and productive pursuits.
I am calling on the Social Sector Ministries to work together to help stem the rising tide of violence.
Become aware of the projects offered by fellow Ministries.
Recommend to children and families at risk, the programmes which will provide avenues for self-development.
Our young people are clever and talented. That astuteness should not be wasted on criminal activity.
We need innovators in the creative arts, wellness, recycling, mobile applications, ecotourism, fashion, food and agro processing, marine and fishing, light engineering and electronics and the list goes on.
We must not continue to lose our young people to crime. They are the hope and future of our Nation and my Government will continue to take all necessary measures to ensure the safety, peace and security of our country.
My friends, my Government’s national vision for Trinidad and Tobago is clearly articulated… “through creativity, innovation and collaboration, we shall prosper together.”
This is why here, today I ask you to save our children, our sons and our daughters. This programme is but one of the many we have launched to help offer opportunity for employment for the citizens of our nation which in turn will help to fight crime in our country.
My government is also looking at many other initiatives which include increased police patrols in Trinidad and Tobago. We are also looking at increased legislative interventions. I have been advised that one such legislative intervention is if someone is found in possession of arms or ammunition that it be made a non-bailable offence. Similarly, I have been advised that the possession of drugs is also to be made a non-bailable offence. As the law stands now, there is discretion in the number of years once you are found with such items. But we wish to make it so that there is no opportunity for bail. These are just some of the areas we are looking at to implement in the fight against crime.
We are keenly aware that although their individual levels of activity may be comparatively small, collectively the importance of the general economic activity of the entrepreneurial class cannot be overemphasized.
My Government remains committed to do its part to create an enabling environment which supports entrepreneurship and sustainable enterprises and generates employment.
We will strive to actualize our Enabling Competitive Business Strategy 2011-2014, which is championed by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro-Enterprise Development and the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment.
In consultation with all stakeholders we will identify and minimise the challenges faced by small businesses and remove the unnecessary bureaucracies.
What we all need to remember, however, is that the level of prosperity earned by the country is related to the level of productivity generated.
A thriving, registered and formalized small business sector has the capacity to positively impact productivity levels in this country, thereby improving Trinidad and Tobago’s global competitiveness rankings and enhancing our ability to create “Prosperity for All.”
Ladies and Gentlemen I wish you all a safe journey home. May God bless each of you and your families and may God bless our great Nation, Trinidad and Tobago.