Making it easier to buy local
The efforts by the DMA, DEXIA, the Ministry for Commerce and Small Business, and the Dominica Coalition of Service Industries are to be applauded for last month's effort s at promoting LOCAL. The key motivator in this challenging sector seems to be the current DMA President Severin Mc Kenzie who in the last few years has proven to be a dynamic leader in promoting the needs of manufacturers (mostly the need to SELL their stuff!) and how this can be facilitated in practical ways. The month-long focus on the many products made in Dominica – some of very high quality – will certainly help but much more will be required, by the government authorities as well as the individual entrepreneurs themselves.
As a start, the serious ones must be recognized and awarded. That encourages AND boosts sales! So the Awards Dinner to end the Special Month focusing on manufacturing and the service sector was very appropriate. Congrats to all who were recognized on the evening of the 29th September.
The next step could be to identify the manufacturing areas that have most potential. The CRAFTs sector is one such, especially the HUGE opportunity created by an expanding TOURISM sector.
As would be clear, when guests come to Dominica, whether on a cruise ship or as stay-over visitors, they don't want to return home with factory made 'foreign' trinkets, but rather with something that is genuinely OF the country they are visiting. Many tourists are also even more pleased to feel their purchase contributes directly to economic growth of the country and to employment that they KNOW is much needed. For stay-over visitors, and with the increasing extra airline charges and restrictions associated with both checked AND hand baggage, our craft people and artists need to bear in mind that souvenirs be preferably small and light.
For cruise ship tourists, it is well known that they are inundated with CHEAP CHINESE-MADE products offered by the Bayfront Venders. This is NOT RIGHT, but yet an understandable occurrence given the poor marketing state of the locally-made alternatives. This can be turned around! Again I invite the governmental authorities to talk with me (for FREE!) on possible strategies to EFFECTIVELY change the long existing practice.
Interestingly, is also much potential with our food delicacies. The other islands (especially Barbados) are already far advanced with special product packaging (the packaging is KEY…). Our CREOLE foods present a possible niche market- bearing in mind the special regulatory requirements when FOOD is involved. There has also been an increasing interest to eat healthier foods from a well being and sustainability point of view.. All these opportunities REQUIRE, however, a more serious approach to RELIABILITY (in quality and in supply) to achieve any consistent results. That remains a serious challenge in Dominica, generally, affecting all that we do but ESPECIALLY if we want BREAK-THOUGH in consistent sales for NEW manufacturing.