Dr. Marcia Brandon
Dr. Brandon: Vulnerability of small businesses coming to the fore
KNOWN for encouraging entrepreneurship in youth locally and regionally over the years, Dr. Marcia Brandon believes that COVID-19 pandemic is showing the decades-long vulnerability in the sector. “Most entrepreneurs are living pay cheque to pay cheque and many have no pay cheques.”
It is against this backdrop that she says this is a time for strong creativity in the sector. “Entrepreneurs can use this time to think through their strategies and refresh, renew and expand where possible, their products or services, on paper first. If possible seek out a mentor, someone with experience, networks and who is honest and has integrity to help.”
According to the Managing Director of the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Livelihoods (COESL): “In this new era, doing good, is going to be good business. I am hoping that the cut throat, materialistic, money grabbing approach to doing business will cease. That people will use this time to also critically examine themselves and why they are on earth. What do they want to be remembered for and what legacy, not just money, they will leave their children. We must do better than before. “
She said this is a great time for entrepreneurs to emerge in Barbados and the Caribbean. Entrepreneurs who are genuinely passionate about solutions that address real social and environmental needs for example, clean energy, decent employment,healthy food, clean energy, social cohesion, inclusive education, climate resilient housing and much more.”
“We have to find a way to engage all our people in the building of our society. Entrepreneurs can emerge from among our vulnerable groups, but we have to be able to nurture, encourage and use new governance or financial models propelled by impact.”
Stressing that COVID-19 is indeed wreaking havoc on micro, small and even some medium sized businesses, Dr. Brandon also acknowledged that big businesses are feeling the pinch as well. Dr. Brandon said there are many MSME entrepreneurs, who have simply given up during this time as their seemingly controlled structures fall apart as they have no way to get supplies/stock and then to re-sell.
“The supply chain has broken down. I know of a few female entrepreneurs who we support at COESL who have not been able to sell anything and one of them we have had to help with groceries, money out of the little that we have and from among partners who have donated food items. Many people are about to become homeless, as some landlords have decided that they are not in a position to give extended time on collecting rent. The problem is there is no rent to collect if entrepreneurs cannot work,” she stated.
Dr. Brandon explained that entrepreneurs operate in a high-stress environment, especially those in the micro and small sectors.
“Issues of mental health and other stress related diseases are very real concerns in this time. Some small businesses are not set up to take their management systems online adequately, and so are not able to access records and other information they need to keep operating at this time," she stated.