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Small business capacity development in Fond St. Jacques

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Resilience of the agricultural sector against the effects of climate change does not only refer to adapted cropping practices or improved land use. It also includes the strengthening and capacity building of small businesses along the value chain which use agricultural raw materials and add value for the end consumer. Only a holistic approach and the strengthening of all stakeholders involved can create a resilient agricultural sector.

Following this understanding, the CATS Programme has partnered up with the Sir Arthur Lewis Community College (SALCC) to conduct a Business Capacity Development of Micro Enterprises in Fond St Jacques, Saint Lucia. Following a previous intervention conducted in April 2019, this training activity for two women-only agro-processing groups intended to further enhance skills and tweak the mindsets of the beneficiaries.

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A total of 13 women are organised in the two groups of Jacq-Co Valley Products Ltd. and Rain Forest Foods. Both businesses heavily depend on local produce such as breadfruit, sweet potatoes, fruits, herbs and many other things. Even though some of their products can be found in local supermarkets already, certain obstacles in their daily operations hinder the groups from exploiting the full potential of their business ideas.

To enhance the capacity of the individuals and thus strengthen the organisations, the SALCC tailored a 6-day training intervention addressing identified key-needs of the groups. Each training day was conducted by different SALCC lecturers, all of them seasoned experts in their respective fields, namely:

  • Entrepreneurship Essentials
  • Introduction to Marketing
  • Principles of Management
  • Basic Book-Keeping Principles
  • Essential Costing Practices
  • Office Administration

The input was provided to the participants through both theoretical lectures and hands-on exercises, conveying crucial aspects of each area of expertise. While going through the lectures, both groups were able to identify day-to-day situations where the new knowledge would have helped to make better-informed decisions.

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Clearly, the training allowed both groups to have a look at their operations from a whole new perspective, leading to sincere considerations about altering established practices in order to further advance as a company. Thrilled by the eye-opening input, the group members got into work right away and discussed costs, revenues, new product ideas, design, marketing approaches, recipes and the management of their business. Now that the training is completed, everyone is looking forward to seeing the positive effects of this capacity building measure which will materialise over the upcoming months.

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For the CATS programme, this intervention is another step in assisting local small businesses and individuals in becoming climate resilient and less vulnerable to external shocks and unforeseen circumstances. The beneficiaries taking part in such trainings benefit from a higher qualification, greater expertise and a potentially more secured income.

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