On November 11 and 12, 2022, the Canadian Government funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project hosted the first two days of its Law for
Small Business series of workshops at the Sagicor Cave Hill School of Business and Management, The UWI, Cave Hill Campus.
Senior members of staff and owners of small businesses in Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis and St. Vincent and the Grenadines attended the sessions which were facilitated by Mr. Erskine Burke, Law Lecturer, Faculty of Law, The UWI, Cave Hill Campus.
At the opening ceremony for the workshops on November 11th, Professor Velma Newton, CBE, SCM, Regional Project Director of the IMPACT Justice Project gave opening remarks on
behalf of the Project and also delivered welcome remarks on behalf of Ms. Abebech Assefa, Counsellor (Development) and Head of Co-operation for the Eastern Caribbean, High Commission of Canada, Barbados, who was unable to attend the session.
In delivering the remarks on behalf of Ms. Assefa, Professor Newton explained that the law for small business workshop was designed to increase the participants’ knowledge on how to handle some of the many legal issues that arise in the day-to-day operation of any business and make them better equipped to make the judgment calls and decisions that business professionals makes on a daily basis and potentially avoid legal issues.
The remarks also detailed the importance of small businesses to any national economy, and noted that in Canada for instance, small and medium sized businesses made up 98% of the
total number of employer businesses, with small businesses alone employing 10.3 million persons or 68.3% of the total Canadian labour force in 2021.
It was also mentioned that pre-COVID-19, small and medium sized businesses also produced the vast majority of goods exported from Canada, accounting for 97.4% of exports.
Professor Newton also shared Ms. Assefa’s concern in relation to the vulnerability of small
businesses in the face of the economic challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She noted that notwithstanding the significant contribution these businesses make to national economies and communities, they do not have adequate access to the financial and technological resources needed to standardize their operations and improve their viability and resilience.
The remarks noted, that on account of issues such as these, the workshop being sponsored by IMPACT Justice was particularly important, as it served to not only inform the participants of their legal rights and obligations but also included information to strengthen
the viability businesses, such as information on marketing and advertising, acquisition of business premises and information on debt management, including insolvency, bankruptcy and liquidation processes.
In closing, the participants were applauded for taking the time out of their busy schedules to participate in the series of workshops, which are scheduled to continue via Zoom each Wednesday, from November 16th to December 14th.
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