The trinidad Guardian / Trade and Industry Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon says government may soon have to engage the Banking fraternity in discussions with a view to introducing unique financing options to assist entrepreneurs in setting up businesses.

Delivering the feature address at the launch of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) 2017 at TSTT’s Corporate Box, Queen’s Park Oval, Port-of-Spain yesterday, the minister admitted that access to capital was the biggest deterrent to persons interested in establishing a business.

She said global indicators had ranked T&T on the lower end of this scale.

Gopee-Scoon said, “The gap is wider for the newer and different entrepreneurs and small and medium sized businesses.”

She added, “Only 11 per cent of startup funding has been accessed through formal financial institutions.”

Commending Republic Bank’s Marketing Manager, Damian Cooper for the pioneering move to meet with entrepreneurs to hear what they need from financial institutions in order to achieve their goals, Gopee-Scoon said, “The entrepreneurial spirit in the non-energy sector is pivotal to our nation’s economic development.”

She said small and medium sized businesses played a crucial role in the domestic economy as data from the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development indicated this sector was comprised of over 20,000 companies, representing more than 85 per cent of all registered businesses and contributing approximately 28 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

Gopee-Scoon reinforced the Finance Minister’s sentiments that government was focused on diversifying the economy, promoting import substitution and growing exports.

She went on, “There are opportunities for both seasoned and emerging entrepreneurs as the current environment challenges us all to think away from the usual and also mandates the application of both innovation and creativity.”

The minister said this was contained in Vision 2030 as they sought to transform the country into a society where young people are confident enough in their own ideas to seek out and create opportunities.

She said government was also investing in new economic infrastructure for innovators as persons requiring infrastructure could obtain land lots complete with all utilities at the Tamana InTech Park in Wallerfield which caters for businesses in ICT, Business Process Outsourcing, Data Processing Centres, Animation and Software Development, High Value Manufacturing and Financial Services.

In addition, she said an Agro-Processing and Light Industrial Park in Moruga was scheduled to come on stream in 2019 with land and factory buildings.

A similar project is also planned for Phoenix Park and will commence in 2018 as government and key partners continue with efforts to create a favourable environment for entrepreneurs and enterprises.

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