Mon | Jan 18, 2021

Businesses in Manchester encouraged to get creative to stay afloat

Published:Monday | November 23, 2020 | 12:06 AMTamara Bailey /Gleaner Writer
Kenisha Dwyer-Powell
Kenisha Dwyer-Powell

MANDEVILLE, Manchester

As the season for increased business approaches, small and medium-sized enterprises are being encouraged to explore the options available to maximise their earning potential and create the opportunities where they don’t readily exist.

President of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Kenisha Dwyer-Powell, said while some business owners have restructured their plans to accommodate the changes caused by the pandemic, others continue to struggle.

She said profit margins, for some companies, have been reduced by 50 per cent, while others are hanging on by a thread.

“… Persons are still being laid off and some employees are working on a week-on week-off basis … . Persons are not necessarily consuming goods and services in the same quantity they were before the pandemic. On top of that, when you look at how these persons run their businesses, they rely on credit from the bank … that’s a bind on the back end.”

It is recommended that business funds be separate from the owner’s personal fun, however, according to Dwyer-Powell, owners now have to support their businesses out of pocket.

“...Looking at a worst-case scenario, maybe about 30-40 per cent of the business community here has been affected, and most of these are small businesses that have under 10 employees.”

The chamber president said the transportation, food and beverage, and tourism sectors are the hardest hit.

“Some fast-food restaurants would have seen a decline and though they offer delivery services, less people are eating out; more persons are at home, so they prepare their meals. When you look at retail stores such as haberdasheries, persons are now buying only what they need and will immediately use, so that has caused a reduction in sales.”

She said an evaluation of the demands in the market has to be done by business owners to ensurethe sustainability and relevance of their businesses.

“They will have to be creative in terms of how they package their goods to consumers, and how well they can secure good prices from the suppliers so they can pass that off to their clients.”

Director of Business Development at GETIT Enterprises Keitho Nembhard told The Gleaner that there has been a reduction in the number of return customers for his delivery company as persons try to economise, and so a need to expand is now imminent.

“During the first wave of COVID-19, there was a great demand for our delivery services. We still have a relatively high demand, but what we see is more new customers than repeat customers, and we find that people are trying to pinch their dollar … some persons are on reduced salaries or unemployed.”

He added, “We see the need to scale up the business to cater to a larger cross section of the market as we realise that the needs are different, so we have to tap into the different market segments to ensure that we are maximising our potential.”

Dwyer-Powell said the chamber, in partnership with the Northern Caribbean University, will be assisting businesses with rebranding, accessing grants, and mobilising resources through the univerisity’s entrepreneurship centre.