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Jun 12, 2018

Teaching Businesses to Survive Disasters

Earlier today, forty participants, including clients of SBDC Belize and Export Belize, both units of BELTRAIDE, attended a workshop to strengthen the capacities of policy makers, business development organizations and business owners in developing and promoting business continuity planning.  It is a key strategic mitigation measure in the event of a disaster.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

In 2017, successive hurricanes devastated a string of island nations, including Dominica and the Virgin Islands.  Those countries, both located in the Caribbean,  were virtually decimated by hurricanes Maria and Irma.  In the wake of the natural disasters, small and medium enterprises have been struggling to regain footing because there were no business continuity plans to put in place following catastrophes of that magnitude.

 

Michael Bittle

Michael Bittle, Managing Director, IBCT

“Over the last two months I’ve been traveling to many countries in the Caribbean that were devastated by the 2017 hurricanes, for example, Barbuda.  Barbuda used to be an island of eighteen hundred people.  There is now maybe one quarter of the population there and it’s doubtful that the businesses there will ever recover.  I’ve been to Dominica.  Dominica was hit terribly hard by Hurricane Maria and they’re now back up to about a thirty percent recovery.  Nine months later, they’re only at about a thirty percent recovery and there are some businesses there that will never reopen again.  Last week, I was in the British Virgin Islands, they were hot by both Irma and Maria and again, there are businesses that will never ever reopen again.  Much of this could have been prevented.  There’s nothing I can do about a hurricane coming to a country like Belize, but there’s a lot that we can do as business managers to protect our businesses, to protect our communities from the effects of any kind of manmade or natural disaster.”

 

Seeing what has taken place in those countries, a partnership with the O.A.S., the University of the West Indies and Global Affair Canada was formed along with BELTRAIDE to carry out a workshop on maintaining comprehensive disaster risk management for micro, small and medium enterprises in Belize.

 

Elvis Nurse

Dr. Elvis Nurse, Project Manager, EKOCDM

“We recognize that there is a deficit in terms of knowledge, knowledge sharing and transfer in the region, especially as it relates to, in this case, small business, medium to small businesses.  And the project is geared primarily at getting that knowledge to the different parties that will benefit most, inclusive of communities, private sector, public sector and it is geared towards the comprehensive disaster management which takes a holistic approach of disaster management, as well as the whole issue of building resilience in Caribbean countries.”

 

According to Michael Bittles, of the Institute for Business Continuity Training, the idea is to educate business owners on how to prepare plan that would aid in the seamless transition of operation in the event of a disaster.

 

Michael Bittle

“The purpose of this workshop is to teach business continuity techniques to MSME, micro, small, medium-sized businesses.  In the Caribbean, MSMEs are the backbone of the entire Caribbean economy.  They account for over fifty percent of GDP, fifty percent of employment.  MSMEs are also the most vulnerable sector of the economy whenever a disaster strikes the business arena.  So what this workshop is intended to do is to provide the tools and techniques so that they can protect the key business activities of their organization, of their business no matter what happens.  And we’re not just talking hurricanes, fires, floods, no matter what happens.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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