Business

Access to finance

Determining factor for doing business and becoming an entrepreneur

By SUSHIL JAIN

Wednesday, September 27, 2017



Many countries across the Caribbean have a number of schemes in place to support entrepreneurs.

World-renowned businessman Richard Branson has set up the Branson Centre of Entrepreneurship in Jamaica, which aims to tackle the lack of financial investment and the culture not always nurturing of growth and change.

Earlier this year, the Caribbean Development Bank announced that it will provide the initial capital for a multi-donor fund to improve the competitiveness of the cultural and creative industries sector in its borrowing member countries, including Jamaica.

In Barbados, the Inter-American Development Bank has backed the Enhanced Access to Credit for Productivity programme which gives small and medium-sized enterprises across the island more access to credit.

By opening up the access to finance, Barbados will be able to enhance its competitiveness on the global stage.

Competitiveness can be defined as the “ability and performance of a firm, sub-sector or country to sell and supply goods and services in a given market, in relation to the ability and performance of other firms, sub-sectors or countries in the same market.”

Access to credit is an important link to productivity in Barbados. To continue to improve their performance, firms in Barbados can use the finance to preserve or increase their competitiveness, particularly in key economic sectors such as tourism.

The guarantee mechanism of the Enhanced Access to Credit for Productivity programme itself supports firms that are credit-constrained as they do not meet conventional credit guarantees.

But finance alone doesn't determine the success of a business. Becoming an entrepreneur does have some obstacles.

Research has already revealed that more than 50 per cent of start-ups fail within the first five years. Financial literacy is a major skill that most entrepreneurs fail to master, and this contributes to these disappointments. And it's not something they can afford to ignore either, as research has shown that up to 36 per cent of business failures are caused by inadequate financial management.

Financial skills are at the heart of running a successful business, but sad to say, many budding entrepreneurs are missing the vital knowledge needed to make informed and effective financial decisions.

Financial expertise helps to uncover and improve a company's financial strength, financing costs, financial flexibility, business control, financial risk, cost control, internal control, personal finances and business strategy. These areas are essential for highlighting business performance and the areas and capabilities to be able to innovate. After all, financial management is most powerful when used to drive improvements.

Crucially, financial knowledge is not a responsibility to be solely carried by entrepreneurs. There are plenty of good accountants who can give good financial advice, especially in the planning stages. They are indeed experts in areas such as raising business finance, tax planning, business planning, and setting up financial management systems.

People across the Caribbean who are on the journey to a professional qualification with ACCA are learning a variety of technical and business-related components in their training. Those bright and motivated individuals achieving the qualification will go on to provide finance and accounting services throughout the region. Through their commitment to this, and the rigorous grounding they have received in governance, good practice, ethics and transparency, the next generation of professional accountants will ensure that businesses in the Caribbean always strive to be better.

Having the right financial management is vital throughout the life of a business. Whether you are just starting out, have an established business or are looking towards a final exit from a firm, you need to have the right financial capabilities to ensure your organisation achieves its full potential.

Today's businesses are changing and innovating more rapidly than ever before, and their financial management needs must continue to evolve alongside their developments. Having the right financial management capabilities is therefore imperative for their success.

Entrepreneurs are creative and capable people, and the Caribbean has a particular talent for producing ones in the tech industry. They are the brains behind a growing number of programmes across the sectors of Internet of Things, eLearning, Online Media, Mobile Gaming, Mobile Surveys, e-Agriculture, e-Health, Social Shopping and more.

With the appropriate expertise, support, guidance and financial investment available, entrepreneurs will continue to flourish across the region.

Sushil Kumar Jain, B.Com, BL, FCMA, FCCA, FCIS, FICWA, FCA worked as the Group Treasurer and Corporate Secretary of the Seprod Group of Companies from 1990 to 2007.

Prior to that he worked with the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, PricewaterhouseCoopers Jamaica, Bahamas Electricity Corporation, Dairy Produce Board of Zambia, Zambia Flying Doctor Service, Government of Tanzania and Heavy Engineering Corporation of India. He served as a Director of The University of the West Indies Hospital- Tony Thwaites Wing Private Ltd for 10 years.

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