Madame Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, graduates of the Power M.O.V.E Academy, good afternoon!
In 2003, when I envisioned the start of the National Business Bureau; for our future, I saw a BVI where each entrepreneur would have access to a place that supported innovative ideas and assisted with the creation of new strategic business frameworks.
I had envisioned a bureau that would keep entrepreneurs attuned with evolving customer expectations, rapid change and positive and negative global trends.
I had foreseen a business bureau that would provide entrepreneurs with the requisite tools to address and navigate social, economic, environmental and cultural trends.
And, more importantly, I had envisioned a business bureau — where at its very core — entrepreneurs would be trained to reimagine opportunities and diversify their product and service offerings to remain not only relevant and viable, but also sustainable.
And when this programme ceased in 2007, I became rather concerned with the lack of connection because truth be told, businesses make this economy run. Businesses are a crucial component of, and major contributor to the strength of our local economy.
That is why, I wasted no time in early 2012 upon our return to office to get this initiative back on track, thanks to Kevin ‘OJ’ Smith who I had been entrusted to revive the bureau with vigour.
Now today, in 2015, I am pleased that the National Business Bureau is kicking and continues to train our people to secure all industries and create new ones to contribute to a stronger economy.
I want to applaud the efforts of the Department of Trade & Consumer Affairs, Mrs. Karia Christopher and her team for making sure that avenues for advancement of our entrepreneurs remain a promise kept.
I also want to thank Professor Devin Robinson, founder of Urban Business Institute for lending his expertise so that all of you could excel personally and professionally.
Graduates, you are in the right place, and at the right time!
A time when many countries are encouraging their customers to stay local; and so should you.
We are in a time when the bottom-line strategy requires businesses to retrench its long-term strategy and refocus its short-term goals to remain profitable.
And, a time when the status quo of profits is hinged on how well you can adjust to change; plan to execute; drive to discover; and define to become extraordinary business men and women.
These ideas are the basic and intrinsic tenets of why I commissioned the National Business Bureau. I am pleased that all of you could benefit from the surmountable opportunities to build a defensible and sustainable enterprise.
It was just yesterday that I spoke during the launching of the MWM Business Network titled: Helping Businesses to Succeed. I said then that connectivity and accessibility are critically important to resilient entrepreneurship and 24 hours later my position remains the same.
Today, 45 of you have successfully completed the course. I now charge and implore all of you to remain connected!
As a cohort, do not lose touch with each other. Network, build coherent relationships and pool your resources. There is more in many and less in one. Build your businesses together and guarantee growth and survival of all your businesses.
As you can see, it has not gone unnoticed by my administration that small businesses do face a variation of challenges and with limited resources. That is why we have developed programmes such as Power MOVE to ensure that participants have both access and exposure to opportunities that would sharpen your skills and “Fuel the Entrepreneurial Spirit”.
Also, programmes such as this provide more opportunities for small business owners and their employees to gain the needed skill set and mind-set that will help them to creatively grow their businesses.
Graduates, my Government is doing our part, now it’s your turn.
My Government and you must work together to ensure economic growth.
You must remain globally competitive!
Remember, the same customers you are competing for locally, technology and direct marketing are making access to them quite possible without travelling. The opportunity is there to modernise your business and be thought leaders ahead of your competitors.
You must offer a niche, but with exceptional customer service. People remember the service before the product. Do not take the senses of “feel” and “taste” for granted.
You can be the next Business of the Month or Innovative Business of the Year. Or you can help the organisation in which you work to long be remembered.
You must be the reason our people invest in their own economy. The opportunity is there to keep more money in the economy.
As a priority my Administration will hold discussions with shipping associations to find a solution to reducing costs to make the BVI more competitive.
We will continue to strengthen the capacity of the bureau—its core programmes and operations.
We will significantly expand the current physical resources. We will incentivise innovation. We will continue to strengthen and develop entrepreneurial capacity. We will continue to encourage diversification.
Let us make progress together by working together. The economy is depending on this collaboration to thrive.
I congratulate all of you and applaud you for empowering yourselves and for preparing to further broaden and drive economic growth and your own success.
I thank you and I look forward to a vibrant business sector.