The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) began its three day launch on Tuesday night by revealing never-before-seen data on the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises sector of the Bahamian economy. The data reveals that MSMEs represent 98 percent of all registered companies and account for 20 percent of all turnover in the country, meaning 80 percent of the turnover in the country is produced by two percent of companies.
SBDC Executive Director Davinia Blair presented the data along with a working definition of an MSME in The Bahamas: “Under $5 million in turnover annually and under 50 employees.”
The data provided by the SBDC also reveals that MSMEs account for 47 percent of total employees, while large companies account for 53 percent. She contended that the disparity between the number of employees in MSMEs and their annual turnover as compared to large businesses, means there appears to be a “strain” somewhere in the sector.
“Hopefully as we dig into this data we’ll be able to uncover what’s happening,” said Blair.
When the data was broken down by island, it was found that when it comes to MSME growth Bimini came out on top, followed by Grand Bahama, Eleuthera, Acklins and Andros. When the data is looked at based on employee growth in MSMEs by island, Rum Cay came out on top, followed by Crooked Island, Exuma, Andros and Long island. When it came to island rankings based on turnover growth, Crooked Island took the top spot, followed by Grand Bahama, Exuma, Long Island and San Salvador.
“The growth in turnover is not necessarily the absolute figure,” said Blair. “Absolute figure, Crooked Island is doing small numbers. I think the first island that has seen significant growth is Grand Bahama, this was very interesting to me. I would not have guessed this, so there is a lot going on in Grand Bahama than one really can see obviously.”
The SBDC also looked at MSME turnover ranking by island and found based on turnover per capital Eleuthera topped the list, followed by Abaco, Exuma, Long Island and Berry Island. When turnover per employee is looked at, Abaco was first, followed by Crooked Island, New Providence, Long Island, and then Ragged Island. When the data is extrapolated based on turnover per MSME, Abaco is markedly ahead of Eleuthera, New Providence, Bimini and Long Island.
“There’s a lot of competition already in New Providence and we have to think about what type of commerce or enterprises we want to develop on the island, so you don’t have sort of this suppressed information here in New Providence,” Blair said.
When the SBDC looked at the types of industries MSMEs represent they found the highest category to be “other personal service activities” at 25 percent; followed by retail trade (except motor vehicles and motorcycles) at 11.3 percent; land transport and transport via pipelines at 10.8 percent; food and beverage service activities at 5.8 percent; construction of buildings at 5.3 percent; services to buildings and landscape activities at 5.2 percent; specialized construction activities at 3.3 percent; wholesale and retail trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles at 3.2 percent; and real estate activities at 2.18 percent.
The five industries that have shown top growth in the country include undifferentiated goods and services at 150 percent; gambling and betting activities at 100 percent; scientific research and development at 66.7 percent; motion picture, video and television program production at 60 percent and publishing activities at 53.1 percent.
“This is just some of the initial information,” said Blair.
“It’s the responsibility of the advisors of the center to sit with each of our clients and figure out which industry they are in, and help them figure out their market saturation. We can tell you exactly how many players are in your market, what their turnover has looked like for the last three years as a group, and be able to compare what your projections are to give you an idea of how well you’re sitting in that particular industry.”