The small business sector in Cayman has been amongst the hardest hit by the economic contraction caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
With Cayman now poised to reopen, revitalising that core segment of the economy is set to receive even more attention from the Chamber of Commerce, according to incoming Chamber President Shomari Scott.
Small and medium-sized enterprises have already been the recipients of several government initiatives to tide them over during the downturn over the past year and a half.
Now, Mr Scott says the Chamber will be making more resources available to the sector as Cayman emerges from the impact of Covid-19 with all eyes on the reopening on 20 November 20.
The small business sector, largely comprised of locally-owned companies, is a vital and dynamic component of the Caymanian economy operating across several industries ranging from grocery stores, boutiques and salons, restaurants, nightclubs, transportation, landscaping, a variety of professional services.
“A lot of times when people hear to Chamber of Commerce, they think big business,” Mr Scott says. “Actually, of the 632 companies that are registered Chamber members, 73% are businesses that have over 20 employees, and 40% are businesses that have under five employees. So, it's really small business that we are representing,” the next-in-line Chamber president points out.
He said special attention is being placed on those businesses to help them adjust to the new realities as the economy reopens.
“When you hear about the training that we're doing; when you hear about the advocacy, it's really on behalf of those businesses that wouldn't have a lot of admin staff, that wouldn't have a lot of revenues, and would bear a lot more pain when we reopen, and that's what we as a Chamber are doing; advocating and making sure that the government can also meet us halfway to help businesses to reopen.”
Appearing on the Caymanian Times discussion programme, The Panel, Mr Scott explained that one of the initiatives that the Chamber is embarking on for its membership that is especially targetted at small businesses is a special focus on the mental wellbeing of business owners.
“There are certain types of mental issues that persons would have with not being able to make their salary and not being able to make ends meet, and now as we get closer to the borders being open, and you have positives popping up left, right and centre, there's another aspect in regards to mental health with the fear of what's going to happen with Covid,” he said.
Mr Scott said safeguarding and supporting small businesses alongside the cohort of established major enterprises is crucial as they all transition back into some semblance of normal commercial activity picking up from where they left off last year.
“When you have a small business that has five employees or less, it becomes hard for the business owner to continue footing the bill, especially when you have businesses that haven't made the revenue over the past two years based on borders being closed.”