'We don't know how to handle small business'

By NATARIO McKENZIE Tribune Business Reporter nmckenzie@tribunemedia.net A BAHAMIAN small and medium-sized business development agency should have been created 20 years ago, a local entrepreneur said yesterday, telling Tribune Business: "We don't know how to handle small businesses". Ethan Quant, president and chief executive of Progressive Consumer Services (PCS), told this newspaper that "the system has a lot of catching up to do". He explained: "Big business has for so long been our bread and butter, but because of the shift a lot of people are looking towards entrepeunership. The system isn't ready for that. "The system has a lot of catching up to do, because our system for so long has been designed for big business. We don't know how to handle small businesses, which is why are now just doing a small and medium-sized enterprise development agency. That should have been on the books 20 years ago. We are now just catching up." Mr Quant, who was a presenter at an SME forum hosted by the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer Confederation (BCCEC) and the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), noted that there were some developments coming on stream with regards to the proposed Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) Development Act. "Help is coming but it isn't going to be an overnight thing; it's going to be systematic," he added. Mr Quant said his five year-old financial and corporate services company had been invited to Carib-Cap, an Inter-American Development Bank/Multilateral Investment Fund-funded project that seeks to strengthen the technical and financial capabilities of microfinance institutions in the Caribbean. "We are the only firm to be invited from the Bahamas to participate," he said. "There aren't any real firms in the Bahamas offering microfinance or doing real, serious SME lending. The project is designed to facilitate the development of the sector. The more our company is able to do by way of financing SMEs, the better it is for the economy." Looking at the macroeconomic environment, Mr Quant said: "Business has been tough. The reality is everyone is experiencing what is happening worldwide. You have to stay ahead of the game by being creative and innovative. We have tried to diversify our product offering, which is why in 2010 we made the move from three core services to 24, and we are doing a systematic roll-out of all the services we will be providing."


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