Chamber looks to nurture local entrepreneurs

| 26/02/2018 | 6 Comments
Cayman News Service, Paul Byles

Paul Byles, Chamber of Commerce President

(CNS): The Chamber of Commerce wants to encourage more young Caymanian entrepreneurs and help them understand that owning and building a business is a legitimate path to a successful future. New Chamber President, Paul Byles, told CNS that young people with an adequate education and the necessary soft skills can be successful entrepreneurs and he hopes that more new local businesses will flourish with young Caymanians at the helm.

“Owning a business is challenging but lots of Caymanians have been successful and we want young people to understand that it is not only possible, but we are here to help,” he said.

This help will come in the shape of small business development services, which will be available to all businesses, but part of the initiative will be a Small Business Development Centre that can help entrepreneurs in the planning stage.

There will also be subsidised assistance in human resources, finance and marketing, with the help of experts within the Chamber membership. “These are areas where it can be important to demonstrate some ability to banks in order to get financing and we hope that our support will be a big help,” Byles added.

Continuing with the execution of the Chamber’s ongoing, three-year advocacy agenda, Byles said that priorities are also focused on improving regulatory efficiencies for business, as well as bridging the gap between students and the Cayman business community. “We have lots of ideas to get students more involved with the workplace including summer experience programmes and a push towards vocational and technical career opportunities,” he said.

Plans are in place for Chamber members to go directly into schools to encourage young people to seek careers as auto mechanics, electricians and plumbers, and in construction, with experts from the various industries on hand to provide guidance.

Another education-related goal is to improve early school intervention in regard to numeracy and literacy, where the Chamber aims to lend support to experts so they can be better prepared in addressing these issues, while continuing to foster stronger links between students and the business community.

As for improving regulatory efficiencies and reducing red tape, which has been of particular concern to Chamber members, Byles recognised the good movement from the government in the Trade and Business licensing requirements, which have made the application and renewal process easier.

“We welcome the fee reductions for small and micro businesses, but the areas we want to see improvement in are the processing time for planning applications and also for immigration,” Byles said.

There is also a desire to encourage more e-services from government, with things like police clearance now available online.

“We’d like this to expand into other areas and we’re trying to find out what the government is planning so we can act as a support partner,” he added. “The challenges we face do not always require major government intervention, but others may need an approach to policy makers. Around 70% of our membership are small businesses, so that is why we are pushing that area, but we will still support all businesses.”

Turning to the always controversial issue of immigration, Byles said the Chamber members were aware of the new National Human Resources Department and were seeking more information on its strategic focus, which is something they would be keen to have some input in.

“Ultimately we would like to see a combination of improved enforcement for unfair recruitment
practices, where Caymanians are not getting an opportunity, while at the same time, where businesses demonstrate they are doing the right thing and have good practices in place then they should get recognition for that by making the application process easier. It’s a carrot-and-stick approach, but what we really want is for all parties to come together to address the issue of Caymanian unemployment.”

Regarding the proposed consumer protection legislation in Cayman, the Chamber has set up a group to look at the law in process to see how it will impact members. “Consumers do need to be adequately protected, but it must be balanced so business can operate.”

Closing in on the first month of his presidency, Byles spoke about his aim to give more support to the community as a whole in Cayman, for example the coming launch this April of an anti-littering campaign, as well as crime prevention, where the Chamber has previously been involved with CrimeStoppers by offering rewards.

“Our members will pledge funds to catch perpetrators,” he said. “We are not lawmakers but we will do what we can. Businesses can be smarter in terms of prevention and neighbourhood watch programmes are supported by an active committee offering rewards.”

Byles is an economist by trade and management consultant, with wide experience in the business sector in Cayman and a strong record of public service, including chairing the former Financial Services Council, and serving on several public sector boards, as well as community service as past president of both Rotary and Junior Achievement.

“I run a small business. I have done so for the past 20 years,” he said. “I know the ups and downs and start-up issues. I have a passion for trying to help small businesses and I want to encourage them along with micro firms to join us.”

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Comments (6)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I notice alot of small businesses in Cayman don’t last,
    They will have business for a while and everything seems good
    and then you come back later and they are boarding up talking about lack of business and losses
    (not that the phenomenon is exclusively an issue in Cayman)
    Multiple times I have wanted to go somewhere to do something to turn up at the place to see the business is no longer open or clearly on the way out, I know small businesses are a risk but from other places I have experienced it just seems exasterbated here for some reason

  2. Anonymous says:

    Start with the schools. Attach a clause to the work permits with regard to littering, fine and confine. If a reoccurrence within X months, permit cancelled. As for the locals, inspect their dwellings and fine them. Some of our people have no pride in keeping their surroundings tidy. Hope there will be success in trying to clean up and for it to stay clean.

  3. Anonymous says:

    oh wow! An Anti-Littering Campaign? Sounds great– I’ll believe it when I see more recycle bins in public parks and more adequate trash bins everywhere!! For Cayman being such a huge tourist location, the amount of trash everywhere is pathetic! Will be great to see the Chamber take ownership for something the government doesn’t find that important!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Glad to hear the Chamber is trying to help because the Government damn well isnt.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Save the gimmicks


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