The sustainability of Trinidad and Tobago’s non energy sectors continue to decline. At the core of the challenges are issues of productivity and competitiveness which is reflected in the country’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index, measured by the World Economic Forum. Among the identified critical areas of deficiency at the microeconomic level are technological readiness, business sophistication, innovation and the relative underutilization of ICT by the business sector.
With specific reference to the latter CARIRI recognizing the potential of the non-energy manufacturing and services sectors to contribute substantially to economic growth and development, and as part of its mandate to build technological capability and enhance operational efficiency among SMEs, has secured financial support from the Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund (MIF) to implement a project to improve the performance of SMEs in two key sectors via the application of ICT.
To improve the business performance and competitiveness of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago to enable them to more effectively meet the competitive challenges of a liberalized marketplace.
The targeted sectors, which have been identified by government and other stakeholders as priority sectors for development and investment promotion, given their potential for new product development, employment and income generation, as well as cluster based development and the exploitation of synergies, are Small and Medium sized Enterprises across Trinidad and Tobago, in the food and beverage and plastics, printing and packaging industries in both manufacturing and services sector. In 2014, the project was extended to include the health and wellness sector.
To achieve its goals, the project has three key components:
- Sensitization of SMEs
- Diagnostic Scoping Studies
- Intervention Programme
Sensitisation of SMEs
Entrepreneurs will only adopt ICT if they understand what it is and how it can be used to improve their competitiveness and overall business performance. This phase is designed to build awareness of the business benefits of ICT for SMEs. The project has sucessfully sentized over 500 SMEs throughout Trinidad and Tobago.
Diagnostic Scoping Studies
This is an assessment of the current status of ICT use in individual businesses to identify opportunities and challenges in adopting ICT. Each business is evaluated on key performance indicators such as change readiness, data sharing, technology, information management and processes. The project has successfully diagnosed 133 SMEs.
This involves the design and implementation of ICT solutions in select enterprises from among the participants of the diagnostic scoping studies programme. The major feature of this programme is the direct, hands-on approach that will be utilized to leverage the full power of ICT for the SME. The project has successfully implemented solutions for 68 SMEs.