By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government and private sector were yesterday urged to collaborate to address the challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises, a well-known consultant warning: “It’s just getting worse.”
Mark Turnquest, principal of Mark A. Turnquest Consulting, told Tribune Business that the Government must put serious focus on creating the long-awaited Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Development Agency (SMEDA), and passing the legislation that will facilitate it.
“I know that the Government has stalled on the two important structures that are needed because they indicated that would want the National Development Plan to take shape but, unfortunately, the small business community can’t wait that long,” Mr Turnquest said.
The most significant thing about the small business development agency will be the funding element that will be in place once there is a dedicated structure. The funding element is very important.”
Mr Turnquest added: “There is nothing special going on when it comes to economic development for the sector.
“I have to applaud the Chamber, which has developed the Small Business Help Desk, which is important, but we need a more national focus. We don’t have any type of ideal meaning of a small business or a medium seized business in the country, and that’s where the Small Business Bill is going to be significant.
“When banks and lending agencies address small businesses and medium-sized businesses, they will know what type of structure these businesses have. Almost every lending organisation or business development organisation has a different definition of a small and medium-sized enterprise.”
Mr Turnquest said it was disappointing that SMEDA and the Small and Medium-Sized Business Development Bill had not yet been introduced.
“Me and my team did a survey of almost 1,000 small business owners, and they are always asking me what has happened,” he added.
“The Government, along with the the private sector, has to collaborate and act as one when it comes to addressing the ills. It’s just getting worse; it’s not getting better, and you can’t sugarcoat it. My recommendation to all stakeholders is to focus on one national plan to develop SMEDA.
“They need to reach out to the small business consultants in the country. If they are not going to give the Small Business Bill or SMEDA a go, then they need to visit the professionals so we can give them ideas on what to do in the alternative.”