Bridgetown, Barbados, March 11, 2013.  Caribbean Export Development Agency (Caribbean Export) in partnership with the International Trade Centre at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) announced today that the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce will complete its four-part Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) Counsellor and Director Certificate Training in Kingston, Jamaica on March 18-19, 2013.  The programme will help Jamaica establish SBDCs to support business owners and entrepreneurs throughout the country.

The Project “Establishment of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) in the CARICOM Member States” (Caribbean SBDC Project) seeks to contribute to the development of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSME) support institutions and is based on the successful Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) model developed by the United States.

SBDCs, were established throughout the US by the federal government in partnership with state governments and universities and colleges, to assist entrepreneurs and business owners in establishing and growing their businesses through a free and confidential suite of advising services. Services include, but are not limited to, feasibility studies, business strategy, financial planning, marketing, production and professional networking. The Centers support new and existing businesses.

Caribbean countries have long recognized the importance of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) as major contributors to employment and growth and CARICOM estimates that micro and small enterprises account for more than 45% of jobs in the region.  MSMEs, therefore, play a pivotal role in the economic stability of the region.

Jamaica will be the second country in the region to complete the training following Belize where the first SBDC was opened on October 31, 2012.  Training in St. Lucia is currently underway and is due to be completed in May, 2013. UTSA Associate Vice President of Economic Development Robert McKinley, and International Trade Center International Business Consultant Barbara Mooney have already completed 3 modules of the UTSA’s Counselor and Director Certificate Training.  The final module will take place on March 18-19,2013 and will enable Jamaica to submit a proposal to open their own SBDC.

The SBDC model provides a structured framework to promote MSME competiveness and development that uses existing resources in the CARICOM region and as such is not an additional burden on limited resources, where available. Accordingly, it can provide the kind of success and sustainability that ensures a ROI on initial investment as well as continued returns in the form of increased taxed revenue by: (i) increased revenue streams; and, (ii) more firms coming under the formal tax structure.

Since 2009, the SBDC network in Mexico has developed 101 centers that support 32,000 small businesses and has created and retained over 12,000 jobs. A similar story can be told by El Salvador, who started this process in 2009 and has now projected to have at least 12 centers operational by the end of 2011.

The rollout of the Caribbean SBDC Project will see the development of SBDCs in Belize, Jamaica, Barbados, Saint Lucia and Dominica.