Minister of Trade Commerce and Industry Paul Chet Greene has announced a new initiative aimed at assisting local producers of arts and craft.
The Minister was speaking at an Awards Ceremony of an Arts, Craft and Design Showcase at the Jolly Beach Resort and Spa this afternoon (on Thursday).
While admonishing the group to become modernized and to see themselves more as “Business People” he announced an initiative which the Ministry of Trade, Commerce and Industry will be undertaking with the opening of a store front in Heritage Quay to accommodate locally produced goods.
But he reminded the “business people” that this initiative is intended to serve as a start up to assisting them in promoting and increasing the visibility of their products, adding that he expects them to move on to “claim their space” and encouraged them to undertake partnership among themselves, to bring about greater benefits.
“This initiative of small business development starts with artisans but the intent is to embrace and involve other sectors to rebuild the economy”, the Minister remarked.
The minister noted that these artists should promote excellence and be ready to take on the challenge of a global environment in which locally produced goods can find their way onto international markets, despite the challenges which smaller businesses and countries like Antigua and Barbuda face with economies of scale and capital.
“As we re-discover the benefits of this sector, you must raise your gears and reach for the stars. You must change your marketing pitch, increase your personal wealth, visibility and accessibility” the Minister charged.
Against this background, the Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister has pledged the government’s commitment, through his Ministry, to continue working with this group and small businesses generally, to ensure that the Gaston Brown led- administration’s vision for small businesses to play an important role in the local economy, is achieved.
The one day Arts, Craft and Design Showcase, dubbed Hand-Crafted…Locally Produced is the first undertaking of a Module under which the government of Antigua and Barbuda secured assistance from the European Union and the Caribbean Development Bank, CDB, to undertake a project, aimed at strengthening Private Sector Participation in the Caricom Single Market and Economy CSME Business Development, with particular emphasis on the arts and craft sector.
Ms. Lisa Callender, consultant on the project and founder of ProTradeConsult, who has been working with the artisans and producers has expressed her satisfaction with the outcome of today’s showcase but stressed the need to make the event an annual one and including more stakeholders, in order to build reputation and increase the visibility of the sector, all of which she says contribute to good market access.
Several local artisans, producers and businesses participated in today’s showcase, with a range of locally produced goods ranging from Art, leather goods, ceramic, jewelry, Soap, wood work, crochet.
A locally produced video highlighting the process of product preparation by artisans was also launched during the awards ceremony.