The opportunities for SMEs
The Trinidad and Tobago Chamber of Industry and Commerce wishes all of Trinidad and Tobago a prosperous and productive New Year.
In Trinidad and Tobago Small and Medium Enterprises have mushroomed over the last decade numbering some 18,000 by the end of 2010, employing about 200,000 persons and contributing nearly 28% to GDP.
However, SMEs face several constraints, the most persistent of which have been non-availability of loan finance, low levels of technology and research and development, and inadequate physical infrastructure. Despite the high liquidity in T&T’s commercial banking system and the availability of a small-business window at certain banks, the CSO found that only about 11% of SME start-up funding comes from the banking fraternity with 70% coming from personal savings.
Recognising this, the Minister of Finance announced plans in his 2011/2012 Budget Statement, for the establishment of an SME Junior Stock Market on the T&T Stock Exchange with the creation of a “third tier…to provide Small and Medium Enterprises with access to the capital market.”
The Minister has proposed that “for the first 5 years, SMEs whose capital is greater than $5 million but less than $50 million and listed on the SME Market for trading purposes, would be allowed a 10 percent corporation tax rate”. However, “the SMEs would be required to raise capital on the stock exchange through an initial public offering with a minimum of 25 shareholders holding at least 30 percent of the company’s share capital” up to a maximum of TT$50 million.
The Chamber is hopeful that prospective shareholders will indeed come forward and support the SME sector so that issues of unemployment, poverty, economic diversification and crime can be addressed frontally. The Chamber is also heartened to learn from the Minister of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development that the Government, in its thrust to develop the SME sector, will use women and youth entrepreneurs, who are among the most vulnerable groups in society, as the main drivers.
With approximately half of our membership comprised of SMEs, the Chamber has made SME development a priority, and one of our strategic initiatives over the next three years. To kick-start this, come January 18, the Chamber, through its Nova Committee will host its Third Biennial SME Conference themed “Make it happen … Success in any environment.
Acknowledging the need by owners of SMEs for more training and development, the conference will provide participants with “hands-on” experience via workshops and group discussions, led by respected business owners. They will also hear about the challenges of operating your own business and how they were overcome. Attendees will learn how to prepare a successful business proposal and the elements of such a proposal.
The Chamber will also have an opportunity to hear directly from the participants what they see as the challenges in the business environment and what are the obstacles to their growth. In turn we will use this information to help us to formulate our work plans for the development of SMEs in 2012 and beyond.
To find out more about this conference and register please call the Chamber or log on to our website.