REMARKS BY PREMIER AND MINISTER OF FINANCE
DR. THE HONOURABLE D. ORLANDO SMITH, OBE
Launch of Trade Entrepreneurial Week
Monday, March 31, 2017
TRADE ENTREPRENEURIAL WEEK OPENS WITH A BANG
We are all here to celebrate the official launch of Trade Entrepreneurial Week, where we focus our efforts on the development of the small business sector, that is — existing and potential entrepreneurs and our youth.
As you know, we have been working diligently to make significant progress in the Trade and Investment portfolio, by advancing plans to provide Virgin Islanders with a path to greater entrepreneurship and employment opportunities.
We have not only renamed and rebranded the Department as the Department of Trade, Investment Promotion and Consumer Affairs, but we have expanded the Department’s mandate to focus on entrepreneurial development.
Small businesses are very dear to my heart and my Government is always interested in the next new and unique business.
In fact, my Government is committed to supporting entrepreneurship and small business development.
We see this as a critical component of our Road Map in charting the Course and positioning the Virgin Islands for the future.
I have long championed the notion that small businesses are the backbone of any economy.
I firmly believe that if we want to grow this economy, we must expand it by embracing small businesses — the lifeblood and an important and growing segment of our economy.
This reality, ladies and gentlemen, is what propelled me in 2013 to reintroduce and institute our National Business programme, to ensure that there was a dedicated function within Government, to support and promote entrepreneurship and small business development.
My Government will continue to support the work of the bureau, to ensure that there is relevant expertise within the Bureau to develop additional programmes to support new entrepreneurs with finance, accounting, customer service, marketing, business development and operations.
More significantly needed is the development of a resource centre that will be housed in the Trade Department. This is where we will be able to facilitate and effectively manage the programmes offered to the local Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME).
We will continue to partner with the COSME, an EU funded programme established and managed by my Government to facilitate regional SME development.
We want to build and ensure a strong and thriving business sector, and I am hopeful, especially after attending the eCamps Kidpreneur Expo, an initiative created by businesswoman Portia Harrigan.
It was just last week that I was able to experience the creative and innovative ideas of our young people at that competition where the talented team presented ideas for small businesses ranging from sports and food to books to children accessories.
The presentations were great as the team spoke about how their ideas can be nurtured to support our local economy.
I also had the opportunity to attend the BizPitch Competition last year, an initiative of Mr. Meade W. Malone.
I was amazed at the business initiatives of our young people who were not only thinking about sourcing the local market, but the international clientele.
It is always good when the private sector can create sustained youth development programmes and activities, business opportunities, and training — all geared towards empowering our youth.
Let me reiterate that youth development remains at the top of my Government’s agenda.
Government cannot do it without you!
Together we must assist them in taking their rightful place as the next generation of business leaders.
Furthermore, it is through our collective efforts that we will continue to move towards a better, more prosperous Virgin Islands for our people for generations to come.
Ladies and gentlemen, as we celebrate Trade Entrepreneurial Week, I am encouraging all of us to support the many activities that are planned. This is an opportunity to benefit from the expertise of seasoned entrepreneurs.
I congratulate the Junior Minister for Trade and the Director, Mrs. Karia Christopher and her team for coming up with innovative ways of bolstering our small business sector.
I hereby, now, declare Trade Entrepreneurial Week officially opened.