The path to export became much clearer for participants at the highly informative Accelerate to Export 2022 symposium by the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the creative sector.
Organized by NCF’s Business Development Department at the Courtyard by Marriott late last year, the event targeted artisans in the three growing sectors of beauty, spa and wellness, home and accent, and fashion and accessories.
In her welcoming remarks, NCF CEO Carol Roberts-Reifer highlighted the importance of the symposium in preparing creatives in these sectors to achieve the ultimate goal of demand and availability of their products and services in regional and international markets.
While praising the creativity of the emerging entrepreneurs, Roberts-Reifer said it is also NCF’s duty to support the national initiative for more local businesses to become foreign currency earners and to focus increased economic activity on the private sector.
In this regard, Andre Hoyte, Senior Business Development Officer and Head of NCF’s Business Development Division, said the sessions were designed to be interactive, while also focusing on critical touch points from business to consumer.
In an effort to present to an excited group of SME owners the fundamental requirements for successful exporting, the NCF Symposium included sessions on market research and trends with Allyson Francis, Services Specialist from the Caribbean Export Development Agency. Helen Joffe, New York NOW’s lead artisan advisor, provided critical insights into what it takes to break through on the global stage.
New York NOW is one of the largest trade shows in the United States, showcasing new and upcoming brands, fashion trends and custom designs expected to hit the market.
In fact, Hoyte revealed that the NCF funded the participation of two Barbadian SMEs at the 2022 New York NOW trade show.
“Some people might be surprised to know that during COVID-19, a number of small businesses in the creative sector have been doing very well, and we at NCF are now trying to see how we can get them to expand and export their products,” described a senior official for business development.
As far as NCF officials are concerned, the transition of creatives from the local market to the export arena through entrepreneurship should be a “natural flow” resulting in more employment and a greater contribution of the sector to the Barbadian economy.
Hoyte cited an explosion in demand for spa and wellness, accessories and beauty products and services, which has continued to grow since the pandemic subsided.
Consumers, he also found, showed great interest in gourmet items, beverages, wines and ice cream specialties, among others. “These businesses have done well during the pandemic and are telling us ‘we’re still viable and we want to grow,'” Hoyte revealed.
Among the wide range of topics covered at the Accelerate to Export 2022 symposium was a session on insights into meeting global standards through the International Standards Organization. The symposium also featured shipping and logistics advice from representatives from Calvin Alkins Customs Services and Goddard Shipping.
In addition, expert discussion forums included topics such as manufacturing scaling techniques for export, understanding export legal issues, and product development.
Partners participating in the organization of the symposium were the Barbados Manufacturers Association, the Barbados National Standards Institution, Export Barbados and the Caribbean Export Development Agency.