Small Business Association ready to lobby government

| 07/09/2015 | 1 Comment
CNS Business

Dawn McLean-Sawney, CISA President

(CNS Business): Having finally, after seven years, obtained ‘non-profit organisation’ status, the Cayman Islands Small Business Association (CISBA) is now ready to re-energise its membership and to lobby government on behalf of small and micro businesses and the 17,000 or so people they employ. Among the items on its agenda is to advocate for tiered work permit fees and retail trade and business licences based on square footage.

“We need to have a closer and more cohesive relationship with government,” CISBA President Dawn McLean-Sawney told CNS Business, explaining that the association wants to see some of government’s focus shift away from attracting big business to supporting small local business.

Acknowledging the recent extension to reduced fees for trade and business licence for small businesses, she said CISBA would be asking government to go further. For example, small local restaurants are paying the same work permit fees for a chef as the Ritz-Carlton and small retail businesses are paying the same import duty as the larger stores, and they would like to see a tiered structure for fees to give small business a chance to compete.

“We want to make the game fairer,” McLean-Sawney said.

There is “incredible promise in Cayman”, she said, but the association needs both public and private sector support to realise that potential. Applauding the efforts of both government and the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce when it comes to small business, she said the CIBSA Board would be actively strengthening those relationships and hope to partner with the Chamber on some issues.

In addition, CISBA will be asking local retail banks to recognise particular issues that small business owners have, such as taking precious time out to do their banking, which often means leaving that business unattended. Having a dedicated line at the bank would be  enormously helpful, she noted.

In Jamaica and Mexico, it’s very easy to get a small loan to start-up a business, even with no collateral. An unsecured loan of just $1,000 for a small start-up could go a long way, McLean-Sawney said, enabling them to at least buy a few basics, such as office equipment, to get off the ground.

Another issue is not being able to have a corporate credit card. Many small business owners can get a personal visa debit card for their business, but this means they miss out on tax breaks when they purchase items from the US, which is given when a corporate credit card based outside the US is used.

There are about 80 members registered with CISBA but only about ten are currently active. However, now that they finally have NPO status, there is a membership drive underway, and McLean-Sawney said the CISBA Board will be organising workshops and speakers, both CISBA and non-CISBA members, specifically for their corner of the business community, covering such topics as finance, marketing, human resource and the legal aspects of running a small business.

One speaker that is already scheduled is a representative from a local insurance company to talk about group health insurance, including a new plan the company has that will offer premium health coverage for micro-businesses, even where the owner is the sole employee.

Small business provides employment for about 17,000 people on the three Cayman Islands, making them collectively the largest employers, providing opportunities for middle class growth, financial independence and jobs for young people, while fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Our voice matters,” McLean-Sawney said.

The next CISBA Annual General Meeting is on Thursday, 17 September 5:30pm at the George Town – Town Hall.

For more details, email or go to the CISBA Facebook page.

CNS Business

CIPSA executive (L-R) Antoleen Williams, Director of Membership; Joel Scott, Past President; Glenda Dilbert-Davis, VP; Dawn McLean-Sawney, President; Cheryl Whittaker, Treasurer; Rosa Harris, Director of PR and Communications (missing are Madhavi Mathura, Immediate Past President and Advisor to the Board; and Denize Solomon, Volunteer and Consultant to the Board)

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Category: Local Business, Small Business

Comments (1)

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  1. Shhhhhh. says:

    I have to ask why has it taken 7 years for this organization to be granted non-profit status? Seven years!!!!!!!

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