(PRESS RELEASE) — There are over 7,000 small businesses in Saint Lucia, and many of them shutdown every year due to fires, flood, and other causes. According to professional studies, most of these never re-open their doors.
So what can small business do to protect itself from such disasters?
The Institute for Business Continuity Training (www.IBCT.com) has just launched an online service to provide free business continuity planning tools and consulting services to MSMEs (Micro-, Small, and Medium-size Enterprises) in Saint Lucia.
These new online resources are available for free at https://www.WeAreOpenforBusiness.com.
“We have just completed a 6 month research and training project to help MSMEs in the Caribbean prepare for and recover from major natural disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.” notes Michael Bittle, Managing Director of IBCT.
The 2017 hurricane season was a poignant reminder of the power and effect of natural disasters. In the Caribbean, such disasters seem to be an almost annual occurrence, resulting in losses and business disruption for MSMEs and the communities they serve.
Two-day Business Continuity training workshops were conducted in Belize, Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Jamaica, and St. Lucia, involving a total of 166 MSMEs and MSME support agencies. The workshops combined both theory and practice, and all workshop participants left with the basis of their own Business Continuity Plan completed in class.
“Concurrent with the workshops,” adds Mr. Bittle, “we also conducted research to clarify the state of business resilience among Caribbean MSMEs. The results indicate that recent disaster experiences significantly influence the perception of SMEs on the potential impacts of future hazards. Those who survived the disasters considered their current level of preparedness to be adequate even though virtually none of them have a Business Continuity Plan or have taken any other steps to protect their businesses.”
The research clearly indicated the need to raise MSME awareness of the risks they are facing and the need for more planning.
While there have been sporadic efforts by various Offices of Disaster Management and some MSME support agencies to promote BCP, these efforts could be increased and expanded to reach a greater audience throughout the Caribbean.
Almost universally, MSMEs expressed their willingness to invest their own time and money to better protect their business resilience. This highlights an opportunity for greater cooperation among public-private MSME support agencies.
As well, greater support could be provided to MSMEs, in the form of financial incentives such as tax credits, insurance discounts or low interest loans, as well as BCP training. Access to government-secured emergency funding for SMEs must be considered, and business insurance products must be enhanced throughout the Caribbean region.
For a small business making less than $ 10,000 USD annually, it is too much to expect them to invest much time or money in disaster preparedness, notes Mr. Bittle. “To help those MSMEs in developing countries, we have created our free business continuity resource website at https://www.WeAreOpenforBusiness.com.”
“In addition,” notes Mr. Bittle, “the Institute for Business Continuity Training is providing free consulting services to MSMEs in the Caribbean. In this way, we hope to help at least some of these small businesses to survive the next hurricane season.”
To read the full report about MSME business continuity needs, visit https://www.IBCT.com/UWI/.
The Institute for Business Continuity Training (www.IBCT.com) is an internationally-recognized Business Continuity training and consulting company, offering a wide range of Business Continuity Management (BCM) and related courses online, onsite, and throughout the year in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and around the world.
In the Caribbean and Central America, IBCT is particularly pleased with its success providing BCM services to members of the Caribbean Association of National Telecommunications Organisations, including Cable & Wireless (multiple countries), Bahamas Telecommunications Company, TSTT, Digicel (multiple countries), TeleSur, and many others.
Recently IBCT partnered with H. Lavity Stout Community College in the British Virgin Islands to provide online and classroom training to some 100 Caribbean and Central American government Disaster Managers under the auspices of the United Nations Development Program. Plus IBCT has worked with several UN agencies, with the Organization of American States (OAS), and with the University of the West Indies.
Our focus is to provide the very best Business Continuity training you can get.