UTC: Greater collaboration needed for SME support

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

UTC executive director Nigel Edwards. FILE PHOTO – Jeff Mayers

The Unit Trust Corporation (UTC)’s executive director Nigel Edwards has called for greater collaboration among entities supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

He was speaking at the ScaleUp TT reception held at UTC’s head office on Independence Square, Port of Spain on Friday.

Edwards said while entities are showing support for SMEs, the next step in creating an environment where small businesses can grow is for these entities to come together.

“Success is a collective effort that requires innovation, collaboration and resilience,” he said. “That is exactly what this is designed to nurture.”

He added, “There are a number of people doing this and similar things and I do want to recognise that it is going on with the support of the Ministry of Trade, but part of what I think is a necessary next step is a greater co-ordination of our efforts.”

The Scale Up TT programme has a similar collaborative environment where entrepreneurs benefit from an exchange of ideas, experiences and expertise.

“This collaborative environment not only accelerates the learning curve for budding entrepreneurs but also promotes the cross-pollination of ideas, leading to the development of novel solutions to complex problems,” he said.

Trade Minister Paula Gopee-Scoon said the ministry is already collaborating with several entities to develop the SME sector.

“The development of SMEs in TT continues to be a priority of the Ministry, which is in alignment with the government’s diversification agenda,” she said. “Your invaluable contribution has been instrumental in selecting diverse firms that are now part of Cohort 3.”

She added that the ministry’s endorsement of ScaleUp TT is a reflection of its ongoing strategy to address the unique needs of the SME sector.

She said the government also facilitates access to finances through the Research and Development Facility and the Grant Fund Facility.

The Grant Fund Facility has benefited more than 35 companies with disbursements of about $7.5 million and the Research and Development Facility has helped 18 companies with funding estimated at $4.31 million.

The Scale Up TT initiative started in 2021 to strengthen and support the existing entrepreneurial infrastructure to promote growth across the sector.