Small Business Women Celebrated in Gros Islet
St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association President Flavia Cherry
Women around the world celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th of this month but to some organizations, the entire month of March is dedicated to activities to celebrate the achievements of women and to highlight key issues confronting them.
It was in that light that dozens of women heading small and micro businesses assembled at the Bay Gardens Inn, Gros Islet over the past weekend.
The event, partly sponsored by the St. Lucia Industrial and Small Business Association (SLISBA) and the Caribbean Association for Feminine Research and Action (CAFRA), gave the women an opportunity to recognize the work they do and their collective contribution to the local economy.
The discussion amongst the women was kept within the ambits for this year’s theme for International Women’s Day ‘Balance for Better’.
Flavia Cherry, President of SLISBA, cautioned the women about working without rest noting that the word ‘balance’ as outlined in the theme is the one which speaks to finding the time to rest, to relax, to network and socialize as business women.
“Tonight, is therefore a time for you to feel special because we know that the future prosperity of our country depends on the many small entrepreneurs like yourselves, who toil day in and day out, to keep the wheels of our economy running smoothly,” Cherry told the women.
“We are proud of every single one of you and would like to encourage you to keep on working towards success because your entrepreneurship plays such a significant role in generating jobs and future economic growth, “Cherry added.
She told the women that SLISBA is on their side and will continue to support and promote entrepreneurship generally and to ensure that small business people in every part of the country have the confidence, encouragement and support they need to go into business and to succeed as entrepreneurs.
“We know, for example the many challenges of trying to balance the workload of your business and to have time for yourself. We know how difficult it is to get dependable, honest and sincere staff who share your vision and passion. We know how challenging it can be to manage in a tough economy, while at the same time having so many demands on you as a small business person.
“We know and understand, because as the business support organization which has been working for so many years with small, medium and micro businesses, we live your reality and are always available and willing, through our staff, to provide support and encouragement,” Cherry said.
Dr Greta Franklin-Cherry
Guest speaker at the event, Dr Greta Franklin-Cherry told the women that as much as it is tough being women in the business world when challenges come their way, they should not feel disheartened as it is still possible to achieve their aims and aspirations.
“We are not men, we need to network, we need to talk, we need an avenue to discuss issues that are affecting us in society for our voices to be heard,” Cherry said, at the same time calling for more female role models in business for other women to aspire to.
However, despite her words of encouragement to women, she was not all that happy with those who had gotten to the top of the career ladder.
‘They don’t appear to champion other women,” she said. “When you get to the top your next thought should be who within my department that is female, I can promote,” Cherry added noting quickly that promotions should be based on merit.
Saying that she is a big advocate for learning and guidance Cherry called on women to acknowledge their limitations.
“As women, we are not superwomen. There are certain jobs we are good at and other jobs that are restrictive because we are females,” Cherry said.
She also called on women not to vilify men because they are not the enemy and instead work with them.