TT Chamber champions micro-enterprise

Above: Gregory McGuire.

BitDepth#1255 for June 25, 2020

The TT Chamber of Commerce held it’s first Beyond Covid webinar last week, offering the wisdom of futurist Ian Khan, energy economist

Gregory McGuire, digital media entrepreneur Ingrid Riley and IT economy strategist Tracy Hackshaw under the moderation of Nova Committee chair Allison Demas.

There was general agreement that the workplace won’t be returning to the old normal, McGuire was firm on that point.

“The process of digitisation is not going to be reversed,” he said.

“The way we work remotely is not going to be reversed.”

“Government should be a model user.”
– Tracy Hackshaw

Hackshaw urged government to become what he described as a “model user.”

“Government’s role should be to reduce friction between business and government agencies, it needs to prioritise digital skills and local content development, facilitating open source and open data initiatives.”

McGuire saw greater issues ahead in governance and the macro-economy that inevitably informs and enables the opportunities available in the smaller micro-economies that the Chamber’s Nova Committee was created to address.

“Government is not going to have the economic space to continue to be the major employer going forward,” McGuire warned.

“We have a second crisis to deal with because of the nature of the economy in the Caribbean.”

“We face Covid-19, we have structural issues because of our dependence on oil and gas, and the impact of external markets will affect the tourism trade. Our capacity to earn forex is going to be diminished.”

“We may be able to ride out this $14 billion deficit because of the Heritage and Stabilisation fund, but we can’t continue that because there is a limit to what we can draw down.”

For businesses, Ingrid Riley, a technology evangelist in Jamaica said, “You have to go back to the basics and to question whether the reason for the business, the need that it addresses, still exists.”

“Innovation should start from the inside out. You must identify the one distinct advantage you have and own it.”
– Ingrid Riley

“Innovation should start from the inside out. You must identify the one distinct advantage you have and own it.”

“There are new people and resources available and you should be investigating how the new reality is unfolding.”

Riley believes that the greatest possibilities and opportunities for entrepreneurs in the evolving world of Covid-19 are in health and wellness, online skills training and digital learning, online events and digital services, ecommerce and digital media.

The gap between the ambitions of the micro and small enterprises that the Nova Committee hopes to guide and jumpstart and the practical engagement they have with formal governance channels is significant.

Businesses at early stages of development are hardly even recognised in formal business support channels in government and innovation remains a buzzword for speeches.

“Our innovation spending is way below the level of a [similar] country and economy as it exists,” McGuire warned.

“We need to build local and to build local capacity. Regardless of the size of your business, you need to take the opportunity to join the digital revolution.”

“Going to the bank has to become a thing of the past. Getting online is a must-do. Delivery is going to become a big thing, in tandem with growth in online shopping.”

“The Chamber should engage its members and work with them to deliver results.”

“This is a time to rethink the business.”
– Ian Khan

“Everyone is trying to figure out what to do,” Ian Khan said.

“This is a time to rethink the business and how you reach and please the customer. The execution of your strategy is going to be everything. The ones who put the pedal to the metal are the ones who succeed.”

“We have to hold ourselves responsible for the promises we make to our company and to our customers.”