Abstract Business Guide Issue 3

Page 1



GETTING AGRICULTURE ON TRACK “A country that cannot feed itself cannot be developed”


hese are the words of the Vice Chancellor of Benson Idahosa University in Benin, Professor MacDonald Idu. If what he says is true, and there are many who believe it is, then this country is far from being developed because the agriculture sector in Trinidad and Tobago has been on the decline since the 1970’s. Food imports increased during the oil boom that took place at that time and high salaries and benefits in the Energy and other sectors lured people away from agriculture. The dependence on oil and natural gas continued to impact negatively on the sector and in the early 2000s it reached what was probably its lowest ebb. The outlook in Tobago while not as bad as Trinidad is similar in many ways and the current international economic situation has made things worse. Successive governments have since been attempting to revitalize the sector and different initiatives have been tried with varying degrees of success including the mega-farms of the PNM, and the current administration has often stated its intention to diversify the economy with agriculture being one of the intended areas of diversification. Some of the issues that have negatively affected the agriculture sector in recent times have been 1. Flooding 2. Poor Irrigation on agricultural lands 3. Praedial larceny All of the above result in sometimes massive loss of produce and profit and dissuade

Written by Phillipa Paul

people from staying in the sector. If government is serious about developing agriculture moves have to be made to alleviate these problems. The current Minister of Food Production has revamped the squad of policemen who have been specially trained to deal with the problem of praedial larceny to make it more effrective. The new squad was only a dozen strong but Minister Maharaj intends to gradually increase the squad to 200 and this should make a dent in the problem for farmers if it is properly managed. Although T&T imports a large percentage of its food, agri-business contributes significantly to the economy and the country exports beverages such as juices, and milk products. Currently the food processing companies tend to import the commodities that they use then they repackage them, e.g. pigeon peas, corn, peppers. If agri-business companies can be encouraged (perhaps with incentives) to purchase their product from local farmers this would decrease the import bill, provide jobs and help the economy. In order for this to happen

the product would have to be competitive in terms of quality, price and consistent availability. Local farmers also have to be taught alternative growing methods that involve less use of pesticides if they are to be competitive internationally as organic fruits and vegetables are the trend as people become more health conscious. The government should continue to provide and increase the availability of training for farmers in new available technologies to increase their output and lower the cost of production so that their prices can be more competitive. Under previous Minister of Food Production Vasant Bharath and initiative was begun to grow more staples locally in an attempt to lower the food bill and basically feed ourselves. Some of the crops grown under this project are cassava, sweet potato and rice. The hope is that these crops will replace wheat which is all imported and the price of which is very high at the moment because of poor harvests in traditional wheat-producing countries. This is a good direction to continue in.

One area of agriculture that is ripe for development and expansion is the cocoa industry. This country has an enviable combination of good soil and appropriate climate for growing cocoa. There are also people with many years of experience in growing the crop as this country has been involved in cocoa production much longer than many countries. T&T produces some of the world’s finest cocoa and can demand really good prices for it because the demand for cocoa globally outstrips the supply. Because of our cheap energy costs we can also maximize our profits. The government owns most of the arable land so it should take the responsibility for setting up the new, large, cocoa farms. The persons chosen to work and manage these farms should also be well educated in the field of cocoa farming and related areas. Of course the real profits are in the value added products that come from cocoa so we should be looking at setting up the infrastructure to keep those profits here instead of just exporting the raw material. Perhaps most importantly the attitude of locals to farming and agriculture has to change. People have to see agriculture as a viable profession, so that they are willing to go into the field. This is where education and marketing comes in. the Ministry has been undertaking some campaigns to change the way agriculture is viewed but the government also has to show by its actions that it is an important sector. This would involve not indulging in actions that tell the populace that the need for houses outweighs the need for food.

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS




Small Business Boom?


Written by Leah Lewis

n Trinidad and Tobago there have been several small businesses that have arisen over the last few years. Business is the way to go. When all else fails open a business and start earning your own keep instead of working for the ‘man’. There are about 18,000 small and medium enterprises, employing approximately 200,000 persons or close to 35 percent of the work force and contributing near to 20 percent of the gross domestic product. Small businesses have proven to be an important pillar for economic survival and growth in Trinidad and Tobago. Data received from the Ministry of Legal Affairs indicates that the registration of new businesses has increased by an average of 10 percent since the global financial meltdown in 2008, while company registration has increased by more than 20 percent. Small busi-

experienced the greatest demand (34%) followed by food and beverage (9%) and beauty culture (8%). This is the current status of small businesses according to Ms. Cooper, NEDCO’s Corporate Communications Manager. She spoke specifically about the growth experienced particularly in the food and beverage sector. That particular industry has contributed to more than 50% of overall manufacturing GDP. This sector possesses significant investment opportunities. As a result of our increased appreciation of the northern hemisphere’s exotic foods and the growth of lifestyle in the more developed metropolitan communities, investors in the local food and beverage sector have a unique opportunity to brand and create specialty foods for the overseas gourmet markets, apart from the more traditional diaspora markets.

Small businesses may be void of excessive layers of authority and so may be more readily equipped to make decisions quickly so that market expectations can be fulfilled nesses are vital to our capitalist economies, yet incur pros and cons like any other business venture. However, have these enterprising small business entrepreneurs really experienced success? In the local context, a small business is defined as having 6-25 employees, assets of TT$250,000- TT$1.5 million and annual sales between TT$250,000-$5 million. Retail service is the sector that has 2

These factors indicate some of the unique advantages that small businesses experience as generators of employment and their ability to act as shock absorbers during a crisis, responding more readily to vagaries in the market. Small businesses may be void of excessive layers of authority and so may be more readily equipped to make decisions quickly so that market expectations can be fulfilled. They are also able to pro-

ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

vide a wide range of products and often at a more affordable price than their larger counterparts. Large businesses that target niche markets with high overheads must produce high levels of output to spread costs. By contrast, small businesses are able to make a profit on a much lower sale figure. They can therefore sell into much smaller markets. Consequently, despite the vast advantages existing small businesses face several constraints, the most persistent of which is procuring loan finance. Despite the high liquidity in Trinidad and Tobago’s commercial banking system and the availability of a small business window at certain banks, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) found that only

11% of small businesses startup funding comes from the banking fraternity with 70% coming from personal savings. This disparity is a by-product of small businesses’ inability to communicate business models and plans to bankers as well as the inability of commercial banks to engage in a structured methodology to evaluate and price credit risk. Small businesses are poised to capitalise heavily on local markets due to our increased acceptance of international tastes and an undying consumerist stand point of buying methods. They remain an economic staple as small businesses provide needed employment. However, the lack of financial funding and education continue to be key factors that hinder its growth.

A revolutionary motor insurance policy that offers flexible insurance coverage and competitive rates.

Protect your greatest investment with this exceptional residential policy.

A unique commercial policy that will ensure you can resume business as quickly as possible.

A suite of policies that gives you complete peace of mind, whether you are at sea or transporting goods via the sea or air.

Backed by unparalleled Red Carpet customer service and a reputation for prompt and hassle-free claims settlement, Guardian General continues to stand by our promise to be there for you…always! Policyholders, friends and non-policyholders, we invite you to contact us today and be part of

The Guardian General Experience

Tel: 625-4445






ompressed Natural Gas (CNG) is considered to be the most viable alternative to traditional liquid transportation fuels in Trinidad and Tobago. Internationally, 144 million drivers have made the switch to CNG, filling up at over 18,000 stations in more than 84 countries. Countries leading the way include Brazil, Argentina and Iran with over 0ne million Natural Gas Vehicles (NGVs) each on their roads. Trinidad and Tobago is ranked within the top 50 list of countries possessing the world’s largest natural gas reserves and as such is poised to take advantage of its benefits. There are several

sold in the domestic market and consequently the government’s share of the petroleum subsidy. Raymond Franco, head of the CNG task force states that diesel is responsible for over half of the total subsidy. To circumvent the weight of the subsidy the state has decided to pay for the CNG conversion kits and over time recover the money. According to the Minister of Energy, Kevin Ramnarine, the subsidy stood at $4.4 billion in 2012. The construction of the country’s first CNG station in 80 years along with several others to follow is another initiative to ensure the accessibility of this cost effective resource. In addition, the government

There are several major benefits that arise out of the conversion to CNG such as the availability of the displaced fuel for export to earn revenues at international market prices major benefits that arise out of the conversion to CNG such as the availability of the displaced fuel for export to earn revenues at international market prices. The increased usage of CNG is an environmentally friendlier fuel that offers reduced green house emissions; as much as 15% to 20% less carbon dioxide than liquid fuels such as gasoline and diesel. The economic spin off to CNG conversion entails a reduction of the total petroleum subsidy on transportation fuels 4

has sought to implement fiscal incentives for CNG. Those measures entail: the removal of vat on imported new and used (less than 2 years old) OEM ( Original Equipment Manufactured) vehicles. There would also be a removal of duty on components for the retrofit of vehicles. For non-business, there is a 25% tax credit for conversion cost up to a limit of $ 2500 per vehicle. For business there is a capital up lift of 130% for wear and tear allowance. These new incentives

ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

are geared towards making CNG a more affordable fuel choice when compared to the cheapest liquid fuel, diesel. Ultimately, the conversion to CNG is more affordable to the consumer and facilitates an attractive case for investors intending to set up CNG service stations. It is interesting to note that not only is CNG cheaper but its cleaner, safer and greener. Compressed natural gas is currently less than half the price of super gasoline resulting in substantial savings in fuel costs. CNG contains no by- products of combustion to contaminate the spark plugs and engine oil. The combustion chamber parts therefore function at peak output for longer periods before requiring service. The engine

oil also remains clean which minimizes engine wear. CNG is greener as harmful emissions such as carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides can be reduced by as much as 35% and 30% respectively when compared to traditional standards. They are tested to ensure safe performance. CNG fuelling systems are sealed and natural gas is lighter than air so if released, rises quickly and dissipates, thus reducing the risk of ignition. As it stands, CNG has a multitude of benefits to the consumer as well as the government. Both parties stand to save and experience favourable rewards. However, the task of constructing enough CNG stations and convincing the population to make the switch remains a daunting one.



Central America’s Investment Opportunities


ood investors are always looking for new places to invest. If they are worth their salt, they would have stopped to take a good look at Central America. Its proximity to North America and largely developing status, make it a great place for FDI’s. Here are three locations that are at the top of our list. Panama Notwithstanding its current strength, Panama is fast becoming even more of a regional powerhouse. Development is replete in this Central American country. Even the nation’s sports teams are beginning to benefit as the football team has steadily moved up in the FIFA rankings and the country still produces quality baseball stars. In terms of infrastructure, the Panama Canal itself is un-

mous canal. Investment potential can be seen via other highprofile projects. The Trump Ocean Club, the region’s tallest building, opened last in 2011. The renowned Waldorf Astoria hotel also opened last year and is called the Panamera. Frank Gehry’s first Latin American design, the BioMuseo, a natural history museum scheduled to open this year. There have also been renovations to various parts of Panama City. The dilapidated historic quarter, Casco Viejo, has been transformed for the safety and pleasure of tourists. Dominican Republic Watching from a world telescope one would see that most of the investment buzz in the Latin American region of late surrounds the Dominican Republic. Sharing an island with Haiti didn’t help its cause before. Neither did its position

58.2 percent economy’s total GDP. Currently the Dominican Republic has the 2nd largest economy in the Caribbean and Central American region. Crime, inflation and unemployment are rife in much of the nation, yet much like several African states with the same malady; there are high prospects for development. The implementation of the Central America-Dominican Republic Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR), which lifted tariffs on U.S. exports to the region, has largely helped in this regard. Plus, several big money early birds have begun pumping money into the island,

In terms of infrastructure, the Panama Canal itself is undergoing a multibillion-dollar expansion. In fact, Trinidad has benefitted substantially from this as we have exported millions of dollars of cement and asphalt to Panama for the project dergoing a multibillion-dollar expansion. In fact, Trinidad has benefitted substantially from this as we have exported millions of dollars of cement and asphalt to Panama for the project. The canal is being widened and deepened along with the addition of two locks, enabling double the canal’s cargo capacity. It does not stop with the fa6

smack dab in the hurricane belt. However, the island makes up for its geographical faults due to its size. The republic is large compared to most other countries in the Caribbean and it offers a wide range of opportunities for affordable real estate. More than half the country’s labour force is involved in a thriving tourism industry which accounts for

ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

making it attractive to other investors. Donald Trump has a large stake in the island, having poured over a billion US dollars into resort and residence development on the island. Costa Rica Costa Rica is an unknown gem for real estate. Some may argue that some areas of the republic are quite expensive to invest in

real estate, but that is mainly attributed to the popular northern region of the island. For some reason, the southern part of Costa Rica has managed to stay off the radar. The ‘Southern Zone’ is considered nicer than the northern areas that most people are more familiar with as it features lush of green with some beautiful waterways. Plus, the recent construction of highway in the area made it much easier to access the Southern Zone. The vast array of largely untouched indigenous flora has also been earmarked as potentially fruitful to pharmaceutical companies who seek the next advancement in herbal medicine. Wildlife and eco-attractions make it a beautiful small resort option. These beautiful jungle and beach scenes are available to enjoy at a fraction of the cost of properties up north. The entry price for a lot in the Southern Zone is generally less than USD 50,000. A similar property in the northern sections of Costa Rica can cost up to eight times as much. The lots in the Southern Zone are also located near a small town that offers shopping and dining. The new accessibility of this area is only expected to increase prices in this area, so it would be a good move to act quickly.



Analyzing Our Third World Status


rom independence to the present day, Trinidad and Tobago has made tremendous strides in its development. There has been significant improvement in areas such as infant mortality, literacy rates and in the general standard of living. Despite these advances T&T is still generally considered a developing rather than a developed country. There are, however some areas in which this country can be considered to have achieved developed status. One area would be economically. Trinidad and Tobago is highly developed economically and the GDP and per capita income of its citizens would most likely put this country in the developed nation category if this was all that was considered. Trinbagonians also enjoy a relatively high standard of living. As far as the Human Development Index report is concerned however, Trinidad does not display sufficient human development to make into the top category which contains 47 countries. The Human Development index (HDI) measures how the income a country receives is utilized in areas such as extended Life Expectancy, Education, health opportunities, adult literacy rate and gross school enrolment ratio. In the last report which was published in early 2013, T&T falls into the second highest category along with countries such as Grenada, St Lucia and the Ukraine. So where does Trinidad fall short? In the area of economic infrastructure, successive governments have failed to deal with the problem of transport. Trinidad still lacks a proper public transport system and as


Written by Phillipa Paul

a result there are far too many privately cars on the road leading to almost continuous traffic and gridlock and making even the most mundane of trips a nightmare for persons who do not own a vehicle. The government is still looking at a rail system as a possible solution, but this is a long way from implementation. In the area of social infrastructure housing continues to be an issue with many lower income persons unable to afford the sometimes extremely high rental or sale costs for homes and yet unable to acquire housing from the state. While government has built many houses in the last 15 years they seem to be unable to meet the needs of the populace for affordable housing which can manifest itself in a squatting problem. There has also been confrontation in recent years between the Housing Ministry and farmers who complain that the country’s most arable land is being taken from agriculture and turned into housing estates. Public Order and Safety continues to be an issue because of the country’s high crime rate. So far the Ministry of National Security has failed in its attempts to curtail the murders which take place on a

ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

regular basis. Many of them are thought to be related to gang warfare and the drug transshipment business. Detection rates are very low and there are very few convictions. There is also need for a major overhaul of the judicial system to eradicate delays and the dependence on eye witnesses. Trinidad and Tobago also falls short in providing adequate health care to those of its citizens who are most in need. While the idea of free health care for those who need it, is a good one the lack of adequate facilities, equipment and trained staff results in care that is decidedly below par and delays that can sometimes be detrimental to the health of those attempting to access care. This is also true in the delivery of service in the public service with many of the processes being very lengthy and outdated and open to corruption. Admittedly there have been improvements in this area in recent times but full computerization in areas such as the licensing office is still outstanding. The processes at the Port Authority and Customs departments also need revision and updating. There is also need for improvement in the areas of environmental and heritage preservation. While a national trust

has been set up its failure to list any heritage assets has led to a situation where buildings and other assets that would definitely form part of the country’s heritage are being destroyed on a regular basis or left to deteriorate and fall apart on their own. A classic example of this would be President’s house which has been uninhabitable for several years after the roof caved in. Care for the environment and protected species such as the Leatherback turtles, the Scarlet Ibis and the Ocelot suffer for manpower and resources and there still appears to be further need for education of the population in the importance of preservation. Finally there is need for diversification of the economy if the country is to be considered truly first world as there continues to be too much dependence on the Energy Sector. One area that has been talked about for years but in which development is moving very slowly is the agriculture sector as this country still has a very high food import bill and the sector continues to receive too little focus. Another area would be in developing the downstream or value added industries in the energy and other sectors so that the country can retain more of the profits from its resources. Cocoa production is an area where this needs to happen as the real value is in producing the chocolate rather than exporting the high quality cocoa itself. Trinidad and Tobago has a lot to be proud of in its 50 years as an independent nation but in terms of development of its people to their full potential and addressing all their need for shelter, security and long life there is still some way to go.



Is The Education System Creating Anti-Entrepreneurs?


Written by Crystal Cassie

omeone once said that entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t. The truth is, while this would appeal to most budding business minds, is the educational system really preparing them for the world of entrepreneurship? Several studies have discovered the traits common to most successful entrepreneurs. These include willingness to take risks, creative and innovative behavior and being committed and self-motivated. They should possess a variety of proficiencies including leadership, technical, accounting and communication skills. Also they should have self-confidence and the ability to bounce back after failure. But if we look at the way business subjects are taught in secondary schools, students are taught just the opposite: to

dation, there is no practical aspect. There are no opportunities for students to actually match the theory learnt with what happens in the dynamic business world. Any examination of the workings of an enterprise is limited to the School Based Assessment. This usually focuses on operations, production or accounting issues and rarely examines the successes or the struggles of the entrepreneur. By extension, there is the lack of training in business activity. The educational system lacks a means by which students can actually engage in business ventures, make business decisions and learn from success or failure. Students should be given the prospect of opening their own businesses even on a small scale within the school population. This would give them the “hands-on” experience and skill set that could be an asset later in life. Also, not enough information on starting up a new busi-

The educational system lacks a means by which students can actually engage in business ventures, make business decisions and learn from success or failure “play it safe.” Basically it is a cycle every year, where students sit in a class, learn about management theories, read chapter upon chapter and then write and exam to attain a Grade 1 in CXC or CAPE. No risky behavior is encouraged. Furthermore, while the syllabus lays the theoretical foun-

ness is shared with students. Many are in the dark as to how to actually go about starting a new business when they leave school. The main challenge faced by entrepreneurs around the world is sourcing capital. Even though there are several institutions that exist to help new business owners like

NEDCO and ADB, many still believe that bank loans are the only option. Similarly, the legal issues that exist in setting up a business are rarely known. This could be detrimental to their profitability in the long run when it comes to patenting ideas and inventions. Even the pivotal role of writing up a proper business plan to inform the viability of a project is not taught fully to students. Another shortcoming is the choosing of subject lines. At the CXC level, students normally choose either business or science subjects to lead them to a certain career path. So students who choose science subjects could ultimately end up becoming entrepreneurs but would not have any formal training in business. All these points attribute

to the fact the education system needs a course that covers all these issues: from raising capital options to skill development. It needs to be real-world and draw upon the experiences of local entrepreneurs while allowing students the chance to dive into risk. It requires that this subject be promoted as a cross departmental area, not only confined to business students. Finally are we really letting students know that in life, they should be self-confident and have the ability to bounce back even though they have failed? Instead, we have a system that allows students to only fail up to a certain age and then they have to switch to another option. When in reality, statistics show that 80% of businesses fail within their first year.

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS




Are You Expansion Ready? planning to phase out the old to make room for the new, you shouldn't be thinking about expansion. Neither should you consider expanding while your industry's experiencing a temporary downturn. Wait for the upswing before moving forward with your expansion plans.


usiness expansion can be offer the business owner a path to even greater fortune, and provide that next level of excitement and rededication of purpose. Besides, sometimes it becomes obvious that you have outgrown your current market. However, expansion is not an easy decision. There are still things to consider before deciding to expand. Is Demand For Your Product/Service Growing? Your business could be doing great, with customers lined up out the door. But if the reason you're so successful is that you run the only sewing machine repair shop within 30 kilometers, you likely don't have a rosy future branching out. It's also important to understand the geographic side of your industry and how that breaks down both in terms of demand and of the labour market. There may be great demand for an all-

night convenience store in a wealthy suburb populated by senior citizens, but finding the people to staff it might pose an insurmountable challenge. Are Your Competitors Expanding? It is always a good idea to keep up with what your competitors are doing. If you find that your current status is equal to theirs, you may be okay for a while without having to expand. However, if you notice that they are growing and adding new features while you are remaining the same, without expanding, you may run the risk of becoming obsolete. Don’t misunderstand this. It is important "NOT" to overreact to every little thing the competition does. It is advised that you "evaluate" the situation thoroughly first. Is Expansion Within Your Budget? Getting a business loan can

10 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

be difficult. If your profits are so through the roof that you don’t require financial help at all then you definitely should not be wondering if to expand anyway. You should have already started the process. However, for the others, there is a lot of calculation and risk involved. A loan may require you to leverage large pieces of collateral, like your house. Do you want to lose a healthy business and a house for a chance to make more money? It is important to consider you the expansion you are going to undertake will be funded? How Does The Future look For Your Product or Service? Expanding a business is a logical choice if you're working in an industry where consumer interest is high and you're keeping pace with your industry's technology. However, if new technology is slowly making your business obsolete and you aren't

Do You Have The Right Team To make It Work? If you've got a strong team of employees and you can leverage their skills and abilities to grow your business, you'll have the resources you need to expand. If you don't have a strong team in place, you'll need to recruit them before you expand, unless your business is truly a one-person operation. Recruitment can be tricky though. Your business may not have had to go through a lot of HR trouble to get it off the ground, but moving forward could pose a serious problem. Are Their Changes In the Marketplace or Industry? Your business is affected by many factors. One of those factors is the very industry you are in. Government regulations may force additional equipment or other costly changes. New products or services might force you to change the way you do business. How are these affecting you? Do the new requirements imposed lead you to believe you need to grow? Will The Necessary Resources Still Be Available? Can you still acquire the quantity of material needed as easily as before? Can you meet output demands? Is transportation an issue? These need to be factored in before expansion takes place.



The Role of An Accountant in Your Small Business


he accounting structure of a company is an essential component to business operations. After all, the role of a business is to make money. However, making all those dollars doesn’t make sense when the money isn’t properly managed. An accountant is especially important to a small business. Read on and you’ll find out how. One of the primary roles of an accountant usually involves the collection and maintenance of financial data, as it relates to a company or firm. The accountant ensures that financial records are maintained in compliance with lawful and

ror the spending patterns of their owners. An efficient and good small business accountant would always have a holistic view of your small business finances as well as your personal finances. He would know that the good personal finances though ancillary to your business finances, would keep you in a good financial situation. Another way in which accounting is such an important aspect to any business is that accountants are responsible for providing information that is used to determine the present and future economic stability of the organization. It has been proven that these companies

The financial information for any organization should be kept in a pristine system because it is a key component used in operating and managing any business accepted procedures and policies on the corporate level. The financial information for any organization should be kept in a pristine system because it is a key component used in operating and managing any business. Managing the financial data of an organization can also include more sophisticated duties, such as developing, implementing and maintaining financial data bases, as well as establishing and monitoring control procedures. Another role is to give good personal financial advice. Usually the two go hand in hand as small businesses usually mir-

that use good accounting practices have a competitive advantage over their opponents. Also they have the ability to improve their decision making abilities. Those that do not use these practices face an inability to compete in the market and make their decisions simply on a hunch. Many accountants offer the ability to see after your taxes as well. Some people require specialized tax service providers, but in Trinidad, the average accountant can handle that for your small enterprise. With that said, accountants should be

12 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

well informed and privy to any legal changes or implementations on your taxes. If tax issues are not dealt with from early on, you can find yourself in a lot of debt down the road and owing the government is not anyone’s cup of tea. Apart from warding off taxation troubles, accountants also know about various taxation breaks as they occur so that you can get the best value claim reward available. Whether you hire an accountant full time or on a task basis, there is a lot that can be benefitted by having a well known accountant with several previous or current clients. Of course if they have other current clients there may be a conflict of interest issue, but barring that you can see great dividends. Because of the respect that they receive in the business community, accountants can also provide valuable networking contacts that can help to easily grow your business organically. Professional accountants have similar cus-

tomers that can be utilized as relevant contacts that may be referred to other clients. This also helps with networking for selling, buying and with potential business partnerships as well as other ventures. Then there is the issue of payroll. Payroll Accountants need to have a comprehensive understanding of fundamental tasks, such as paycheck calculations, taxation principles, preparing ledgers and journals, transfers and journal entries and deposits. Payroll Accountants is responsible for appropriate disbursement of funds, maintaining and updating employee leave balance information. In fact, most staff will only see the accountant for his/her role in that regard. Overall, an accountant is crucial to the success of a small business. The many roles that they undertake are important to the functioning of a business and it frees up the owners and other managers to fulfill other roles.




the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association


rade development expert Mahindra Ramesh Ramdeen replaced Natasha Mustapha-Scott as the C.E.O. of the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturers Association on January 2nd of this year. He holds a first degree in Economics and a post-graduate diploma in International Relations. Ramdeen also has a Masters in International Relations a second Masters Degree (with distinction) in the area of International Trade Policy. Last year, Ramdeen completed a full program in Export Marketing and is certified Export Marketing Trainer. Here, we interview this vital cog in T&T’s manufacturing apparatus as our Trump Card. BG: How does one become the C.E.O. of TTMA? RR: Wow. Good question. How does one become the C.E.O. of TTMA? Well let me tell you what TTMA is about and from there you’ll be able to understand what kind of skill set is needed for the position and why I was chosen. TTMA is about representing the interest of Manufacturers … articulating policy and generally being the voice of business enterprise. As such, I am the mediator between the government and the manufacturers in the non oil and gas arena. We would try to solicit the advice of our membership or stakeholders and put together something to approach the government with and represent the stakeholder’s position on the matter. Whether it is to implement policy or whatever is necessary to facilitate manufacturing and trade in the country. I was

R a m e s h

approached because of my skill set in that regard. I was involved in the Ministry of Trade for over ten years and I worked in the TTMA for 8 years previously so I had an understanding of what was needed in the role. In terms of my educational background I have a Masters in International Trade Policy (Distinction), a Masters International Relations and a Post Graduate Diploma in International Relations. I am also pursuing a Doctorate so I am also qualified in that regard. BG: Because of TTMA’s role as representative for industries in dealing with Government would you consider yourself to be a political figure? RR: Not at all. We’re not political. In fact we are A-political if anything. We just work as a liaison between the manufacturers and the government and try to agree upon solutions that would help the cause. It does not matter who the government in power is, I have to work with them.

14 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

R a m d een BG: What are some of the major revenue producing products produced locally beside oil and gas? RR: We have a number of Champion Industries. Sacha Cosmetics, SM Jaleel, Solo, National Canners, Holiday Foods, Associated brands, Printing and Packaging… All the paper products you see here are produced locally. In fact, we export paper to Brazil. We don’t produce paper from trees but we make all those products. Even Van Heusen shirts are produced in Trinidad and Tobago. We produce a lot of paint. We have ammonia, urea and methanol. We are the largest exporter of Ammonia and urea to the United States in the world. We are shipping significant quantities of cement to Panama right now for the canal. Even water… Blue Waters is the largest producer of water in the Caribbean. The list goes on. We all know what we produce, but we just need to start paying attention to it. BG: T&T has a “holiday” laissez faire mentality. Do you think our labour productivity is where it should be? RR: No. We are no way close to where we should be. That is one of the major deficiencies of our economy. We can’t continue to increase wages without increasing productivity because in effect you’re allowing for inflation. I am all for people being paid better, but it must be tied to productivity. Currently the manufacturing sector is in need of over 3000 labourers, but people just don’t want to work. I think the government (both past and present) has played a role in that. All of the social programs

like URP and CEPEP have created a dependency syndrome in some people where they can go to work for three hours a day and collect a check. There used to be factories running three shifts and now you won’t find that because they just don’t have the available staff. So we are cutting productivity and while our prices are increasing other countries are falling because there labour cost is falling and their efficiency is increasing. I think you hit the nail right on the head with the “laissez faire” statement. People just don’t want to work or work hard and it is a cultural thing. It’s funny, because we would go to America and do so much and with so much respect and we don’t show that love here. It’s unfortunate, because we produce some of the best in the world, but we don’t appreciate it. BG: Do you think the Labour shortage issue is the biggest problem we face in terms of productivity? RR: It is one of the problems. Crime is another big problem. That is actually one of the things responsible for the lack of the third shift. Women made up a lot of the people who worked in factories and now you see less of them working those shifts which end early in the morning and late at night. Traffic congestion is another problem. Before a company could have move three containers a day to and from port-of-Spain, now it is only one. BG: What would be your dream accomplishment in the next five years? RR: If I could remove some of the obstacles to trade at this


TRUMP CARD point in time – I don’t have a shopping list – but if you could solve the VAT refund problem and government procurement issues those will go a long way. If we could fix those problems, you not only fix it for the TTMA, but you fix a problem for the country. We are working on the Beverage Container Bill. If we look at flooding what is the perennial problem? We have to find a way to properly dispose of plastic bottles. We continue to lobby to fix some of the border agencies… the Chemistry Food and Drug for instance. However, the major thing I would like to see is the Trinidad and Tobago Manufacturing industry continue to grow, in terms of numbers of employment, export and most importantly in its contribution to the country’s GDP. Currently the manufacturing sector contributes about 7 percent of the country’s GDP. If I could move that number to about 15 percent in the next five years that would be something substantial. BG: What do you feel will be the biggest stumbling block to achieving that goal? RR: We can only shape and inform policy. At the end of the day we live in a state-centric society so the government makes the decisions even though they are not the ones who trade. The stumbling block is really to get the policy makers to get things passed for us. BG: What is one thing Trinidad should be exporting that we aren’t? RR: My personal opinion is that we need to stop exporting our raw materials and engage in value added production. For example, we need to stop selling raw cocoa at $3 per kilogram and buying back chocolate at $99 per kilogram. We need to stop selling sea-island cotton and buying back a Sea Island cotton shirt for $500 US. We need to stop selling our oil and gas and use the oil and gas in the downstream

industries. How much is a barrel of oil now US$90? One barrel of oil can make about 100 bottles of lubricant. One bottle of lubricant might go for TT$100 so you are seeing the potential there. Guyana sells sugar in its raw form and buys back granulated sugar at three times the price. So the answer is I think we should sell more value added products. It is not as easy as it seems. We need to create a mechanism to foster an environment to attract investors to create value added products. BG: We hear about murders, rapes and robberies in the news all the time; but how much does white collar crime affect business in T&T? RR: Crime generally continues to be a problem. I don’t know if we have the political will to fight it because we hear all the type that governments say they are going for all types of criminals but we are not seeing the returns. Those involved in corruption at the highest level, nothing is being done to them. The population feels like nothing is being done and there is a perception that in order to do business in T&T you have to “grease a hand.” In most of the West African states if you want to do business you have to factor a 25 percent for greasing of hands and I don’t want things to get like that in Trinidad and Tobago. Once you have to call someone in office to do something they are already constitutionally bound to do then you are already in problems. If I have to ask for a particular license as a favour or go through some bureaucratic process on any tier there will be corruption. We have reached a stage in IT especially where don’t need some of those bureaucracies. BG: You recently assumed your post, but what has been your major accomplishment thus far? RR: We have been able to reformat and streamline the operations of TTMA. We

have dealt with a number of CARICOM and regional trade issues. We have done a lot of work concerning getting bills passed. One of which is the Beverage Container Bill. BG: You have so much experience in the field. You also, have two Master’s Degrees and you are currently pursuing a Doctorate. Not to mention you are a lecturer. With so much experience do you feel as though you are still learning or is school merely a means to further boost your CV? RR: I absolutely still learn. I think when a person feels like he can no longer learn then something is wrong. I also believe it is important to be able to put what you learn into practical use. Even now I am furthering my studies and trying to use it to become better at what I do. I think everyone should take advantage of educational opportunities to make themselves better and in turn the various industries and the country as a whole. BG: Do you believe our education system encourages the emergence of innovators and great businessmen or it basically churns out 9-5 employees? RR: I believe our education system has failed us somewhat. It has become stagnant especially at the tertiary level. When people are doing their thesis and whatnot they should make

it more interactive and project based to bring some practical reality to your assessment. Because we have people coming out of University and being placed in the work environment and they are lost. Also there needs to be a GAP analysis to look at all the sectors and evaluate the needs of each industry. If we continue to produce 1000 Literature degrees every year and the demand is not there for Literature Degrees what do we do with them? Just think! Steelpan was probably our last invention. We need to be more innovative. We don’t necessarily have to invent, but we need to innovate. It is interesting because we do produce some of the best in terms of the cultural aspect. We have some of the greatest musical entertainers and whatnot. So maybe the focus should transcend manufacturing encompass more of the culture of Trinidad because we do produce world quality to an extent. BG: On a personal note… What does Mahindra Ramdeen do in his leisure? RR: I am a sports enthusiast. I love sports. I love cricket and I continue to play cricket at a high level for several teams. I was also very good at football. I captained my former school QRC at intercol. I am a Manchester United fan and a Real Madrid fan. My spare time is spent in sport-related activities. BG: How do you envision life after your tenure at TTMA? RR: I think I’ll do some consultancy work. I’ve gotten some opportunities to go international and do other jobs, so if the opportunities are still there maybe I can look in that direction. I also want to get into academia more at the University. However, I want to build the TTMA to be the number one business organization in the region – in the hemisphere if possible. I want TTMA to be more than just a company for trade.

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 15

Breathtaking Place your special order at any Standard branch nationwide.

Dining Set Widest variety available at Standard Grand Bazaar.

Bedroom Set Widest variety available at Standard Grand Bazaar.



Reducing Trinidad’s Import bill Written by Phillipa Paul


rinidad and Tobago has a very high import bill and the food import bill, which is more than double the revenue from exports, accounts for a large percentage of this figure. In fact the Caribbean as a region imports more food than any other region in the world. One of the ways of alleviating this problem and reducing the high food import bill would be to grow more of what we eat locally and to find substitutes for what we cannot grow locally so we can cut the amount we spend on bringing food in. One example of this would be finding a substitute for wheat which cannot be grown in this country and which is currently becoming not only expensive to import but also unavailable. It has been suggested in the past by persons such as the recently deceased Professor John Spence that this country could substitute cas-

sava flour for wheat and grow the cassava locally. This would not only reduce the import bill and lower the price of food but it is also a healthier alternative. There are several other crops that can be grown locally and substituted for foods that we now import. Because of the decline in agriculture in recent years, there would have to be incentives given by the state to lure persons back to the land and the government has looked at offering low interest loans and other inducements. There is also a need for improved water resource management for crops as inadequate water supply and irrigation is currently an issue for farmers. Also needed is implementation of a land use policy that earmarks land for agricultural use. There will also have to be more educational programmes targeted towards young people on the importance and benefits

of farming and fishing as viable career paths. Currently the group involved in agriculture is an aging one and if the industry is to be sustainable young people would have to be encouraged to become involved. The current administration has repeatedly expressed its concern about the country’s food import cost and has stated its intention to reduce the figure by about 10% annually. Because Trinidad and Tobago does not have the land space to grow the amount of the carbohydrate staples used by local consumers one of the solutions being considered is importing more food from within the region. With this is mind the government has held talks with other regional governments regarding importing certain food items and vice versa. Discussions were held as recently as February of this year between this country’s Minister of State in the Ministry of

Food Production and the Agriculture Minister of Guyana, because Guyana is a country that has much more space for farming. The discussion centred around the importation of staples such as rice, potatoes, onions and beef from Guyana. The government is considering funding large-scale farms in the South American nation to produce the staples that this country needs. This is expected to greatly reduce the food import bill. If more food can be grown locally or at least in the region then there will be less need for the country’s busy agri-processing industry to import the fruits and other foods needed for this industry to thrive. At the moment most of what they use is imported because it is not available locally in the quantities or quality required. This would also assist in reduced the import bill and improving the import to export ratio.

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 17





obago possesses raw and unwavering beauty and is fast becoming a formidable tourist power house in its own right. Like any other tourist destination, amidst the sea, sand and sun lies the unnerving stigma of crime. Tourists travelling to Tobago, especially those visiting crime hot spots such as bars and nightclubs are more susceptible to robbery. Additionally, casual drug use by tourists has also increased the drug trade and further fuels violent crime. Indeed, crime in Trinidad and Tobago is not simply a domestic issue whose effect remains limited to this country’s borders. Several countries including the United Kingdom and Australia have issued travel advisories warning their citizens about the level of crime here. It should be noted that from a statistical and quali-

tic in nature. A significant and growing sect of this violence is a direct result of the influence of gangs, illegal narcotics and firearms. Many crimes go unreported and there are instances in which crimes are reported but not documented. In recent times, there has been a migration of these criminal elements to the sister isle of Tobago. As a result, there have been increased reports of murder, home invasion and petty theft in Tobago. There is no doubt that crime in Trinidad affects the overall reputation of Trinidad and Tobago within the international community. The impact of national crime and its effect on Tobago’s tourism is a result of Trinidad’s crime rate. This is the tourism cost that Tobago is now being made to pay. According to Councillor Deon Isaac, Assistant Secretary working out

Many crimes go unreported and there are instances in which crimes are reported but not documented tative stand point the status of crime in Trinidad versus Tobago mirrors a stark unequal paradigm. This begs the question of whether Tobago bears the tourism cost for Trinidad’s spiralling crime rate. The majority of violent criminal activity such as homicides, kidnappings and assaults/sexual assaults that occurs in Trinidad is gang/drug related or domes-

of the Chief Secretary’s office, “The impact of potential declining numbers of international arrivals in Tobago is a direct result of the crime situation in Trinidad.” He noted that visitors should be made aware of the disparity in crime levels betwixt Trinidad and Tobago. Isaac spoke specifically to the issue of travel advisories that are issued by embassies of foreign countries. He made the

18 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

suggestion that separate travel advisories should be issued for Trinidad and separate advisories issued for Tobago because the situation in regards to crime is completely different, and there is no reason for crime in Trinidad to give Tobago a bad name. It is this ideology of crime across Trinidad and Tobago that is in fact hurting Tobago’s tourism industry. Crime has the potential to significantly damage a country's travel and tourism industry. In Trinidad and Tobago, crime data from the Central Statistical Office shows that total serious crimes (includes murder, manslaughter, robbery, narcotics and forgery amongst others) have increased by approximately 30%

over the last decade from 15,796 in 1998 to 20,566 in 2008. The murder rate has increased by approximately 293% from 120 in 2000 to 472 in 2010. Although these crime statistics account for crime levels across Trinidad as well as Tobago, there is a clear difference in the amount of crime that occurs in Tobago which is significantly less than that of Trinidad’s. The increased connotation of crime applied to Tobago affects business as well as leisure and that is bad for Tobago’s economy especially since tourism holds a great market share of their GDP. Trinidad’s crime reduction may provide the added impetus needed to catalyse the optimisation of the tourism industry in Tobago.



Analysing Real Estate costs


etting the price on a piece of Real Estate is a complex decision. It usually requires a team of people (Valuators, Contractors, Investors), and depends on factors such as the type of property (whether commercial or residential); its location; the utilities offered; the perceived level of safety of the area; the degree to which the area is flood-prone; the relief of the land; and the cost of building materials. Type of property Commercial property (property that is used to generate a profit) describes land on which offices, restaurants, malls, hotels, and hospitals are located. The cost would usually be higher for these types of properties, as it would be closer in proximity to essential services and establishments such as schools, hospitals, parks, entertainment grounds, museums, and other important institutions. Residential property describes land that is predominately used for housing. This is usually cheaper than commercial property because it may not be as convenient in nature as Commercial Property areas. Location The closer a piece of property is to goods and services or, the higher its price. In other words, properties located close to hospitals, schools, supermarkets, government offices, malls, public transportation etc. have a greater value because of their accessibility to extensive resources, and therefore will cost more than properties that are located further away from these amenities. Utilities offered Properties that are equipped

Written by Revon Phillip

with a regular water supply; electricity; a functioning sewage system; and access to telecommunications services carry much more value than properties that do not offer these utilities; or offer these utilities irregularly. The perceived level of safety The level of crime present in a particular area has a negative effect on property values. In fact, a study performed in Chicago found that just a 10% drop in crime usually increases property values by two to nearly five percent. The degree to which the area is flood-prone In Trinidad it is known that flooding has caused loss of life, disruption to living and millions of dollars in losses. As a result real estate would be affected as well in terms of construction in flood prone areas as well as damages to buildings. The relief of the land Land that is sloping or bumpy may be viewed as less valuable than land with a more flat, regular relief. Therefore, properties located on land with a more regular relief will cost more than those that are not. The cost of building materials This depends upon the state of the economy. If the prices of construction materials such as cement, steel, gypsum, and wood are high, then the cost of properties would increase. The Global Economy and Trinidad As the global economy is on the narrow path to recovery, the bust in the property development and real estate sector has actually forced the sector into a more practical

prices are holding and those with the financial base are still looking and purchasing.

frame of mind in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the Association of Real Estate Agents (AREA): • The current outlook for real estate and property development in T&T is positive • There has been an increase in residential and commercial sales in the first half of 2011 when compared to the same period for 2010. • Property development is also on the increase when compared to 2009 and 2010, which saw mainly the completion of projects. However, this development is still sluggish due to the global economy, the slow stimulation of the local economy by government and the high crime statistics, which affect the perception of local business. • Bank interest is reducing, which should stimulate the market. Prices remain steady Conversely, in Trinidad property prices are holding steady. Information from AREA states: • While there is still hope in the market that prices will fall, this does not appear to be realistic as property owners are not desperate, As such,

• There are not enough affordable houses for the middleincome range, which is where the greatest number of potential buyers are. Incomes are well below the criteria for qualification for mortgages in relation to the price of housing. • Developers are cautious to move forward with projects at a time of economic uncertainty as there have been many instances in the past where cost overruns have led to failed projects and this, together with the inability of buyers to qualify for mortgages, makes the risks higher • The cost of construction and the price of steel remain high. Bureaucracy is increasing and this will impact on the cost of development because the longer it takes to complete a project, the longer the interest has to be paid on bridging loans and increased labour costs over a longer time period. Each of the above factors plays a significant part in influencing the price of Real Estate. There may have been aspects that we take for granted in property ownership, but all have an impact on the experience of the person(s) that may eventually own the property. SOURCES

http://www.discovertnt.com/articles/ Trinidad/Trinidad-Real-Estate:-aproperty-market-in-flux/325/3/36 http://www.globalpropertyguide.com/ Caribbean/Trinidad-and-Tobago/ Landlord-and-Tenant http://www.trinidadandtobagonews. com/blog/?p=468 http://www.whoswhotnt.com/index. cfm/0,133,2344,html

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 19



Must Have Tech Updates


he technology boom of the past few decades has had enormous implications for the business world. On one hand, our capabilities have shot through the roof and we have power that was unimaginable just a few years ago. On the other hand, the growth of technology requires constant upgrading that can quickly get expensive. However, the benefits of upgrading your office technology are well worth the expense. It is important to be on the cusp of technology or several opportunities can pass you by. Here are some musthave technological upgrades. External Drives External hard drives for PC deliver easy-to-use, flexible protection for all your files -- including photos and videos from your social media accounts. Externals are great

Improve Your Memory Stick Ever spot cheap USB flash drives at the flea market and wonder about the large price difference with those you saw elsewhere? Though part of the reason for the price disparity may be mark-ups imposed by more established shops, the truth is that not all USB flash drives offer the same kind of performance. Not only are some faster than others, but they are more compatible with a wider range of computers. The speed at which you can write files to or copy data from a flash drive varies depending on the electronics under the hood. Raw access speeds are of little relevance for occasionally transporting small documents. Businesses that use them with large files such as highresolution photographs and computer assisted drawing (CAD) plans will appreciate faster flash drives. Instead of

going for the cheapest USB flash drive, pay attention to the stated read/write speeds before buying. In any event, the best flash drives on the market last way longer than the cheap versions.

security it needs. Sensitive information can easily be exposed or stolen on the internet. Get a nice webcam and audio setup as well. Having physical meetings can be hard with all that is currently going on in this fast-paced world. Therefore, applications like Skype can help to facilitate online meetings. When it does come to traditional desktop software, a good rule of thumb is that you should only upgrade when you feel a new version is bringing something you really, really need. Most features are hardly ever used anyway. In any event, most software offers some way to accept automatic patching/updates of the software and that can save you a lot of time.

Spruce Up Your Software Antivirus and malware programs should be thoroughly monitored to make sure your growing business has the

Gigabit Networking How fast is your system? If you're still working on an Ethernet speed of 100 Mbps you should consider an

Antivirus and malware programs should be thoroughly monitored to make sure your growing business has the security it needs options for backing up data as it can be stored away from your office and is easy to manipulate. This is also key for anyone who travels with an iPad and wants to access music, movies and more while on the road. An external hard drive is more durable and can hold more information than a flash drive. It is also harder to lose, which means your vital information will be safer.

20 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

upgrade. Gigabit Ethernet will improve your browsing and maneuvering speed 10-fold. The system is so fast that a large file transfer that took 15 minutes to complete before at 100 Mbps will take less than two minutes when transferred in a 1,000 Mbps system. However, improved file transfer speed is just one benefit. Having more network speed will increase your effectiveness at work, allow you to access files, view data stored in the cloud and enable you to increase productivity and decrease stress. Skip the hassle of waiting for a document to transfer or load and invest in the right network capabilities to better leverage every system. These tech upgrades are considered essential for any business that wants to reach new heights. There are more, even higher tech upgrades, but we’ll stick to these for now.



The Importance of Social Media


ocial Media is fast becoming the absolute medium for business growth development due to its awesome marketing possibilities. Whether you accept it or not, we are part and parcel of the technological age and even mom and pops stores have been capitalizing on social media’s potential. Customers themselves are becoming social networks as they give feedback and share and connect with others, personalizing their experiences whenever possible. Customers are deeply engaged with products and services across the entire digital space—and it’s by choice. They’re using multiple outlets to ask questions, give feedback and share and connect with others, and dictating when and where they interact with products and services. And in a social space where your customers are at different places at different times, it’s important for a business to understand the full potential of the brand experience space for the customer. Today’s customer needs companies to speak to them, and deliver a collective customer experience across traditional and social channels. Here are some ways social media can help your business. Social Media Enhances Your Industry Stance Forget about your clients for a moment. Social media still maintains a strong level of importance within the industry itself….whatever industry you happen to be engaged in. From future leaders to popular press sites, online job recruitment to news and information, every industry is involved in social media. By engaging in current professional affiliations,

contributing to online events and remaining visibly involved in the industry, your small business takes on a more active appearance in the mind of peers and other professionals. Social Media Promotes Customer Loyalty Social Media Since you can use social media as a means to reach out to fans and directly address their concerns, your efforts will gain you loyalty. Take note, however, that this can be tricky. Since social media is public, people see complaints. How your company responds to these grievances is crucial because it would directly affect the person complaining and your audience will see this. But if you do it right, you'll gain a loyal fan base. Social Media Is Cost Effective Finding new clients can be expensive especially when forced to pay printing, postage and other costs. Numerous

studies indicate that social media marketing tends to cost less per new client – and substantially less for existing clients – than traditional methods including print, television and radio. Social Media Generates Web Traffic If your company has a website of its own and you want to further grow its traffic, then social media should be an excellent way to do so. Each of you firm's social media profiles can direct your friends and followers to your website. Through social media, you can also link to your press releases and other online marketing materials, which can use your targeted keywords that improve your website's search engine optimization. In turn, improved traffic will lead to increased exposure for your company. Advertisements don’t give you much time or space. At best, you get to tell

potential customers about your products. Social Media Shows Off Your Uniqueness With social media, you can create a likable personality for your small business. Big companies spend thousands of dollars on branding. All you have to do is be yourself, post frequently and respond to your customers online. Social Media Connects You To A Large Business Network Social media does more than just help you find customers. It can also help you connect with other businesses and entrepreneurs. Make a profile for yourself on LinkedIn. This will permit you to connect with businesses and professionals there. Making those connections now could benefit you in unexpected ways, so accept requests from reputable professionals on social media.

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 21



Developing the Entrepreneur

Warning Signs For Employers During Interviews


any people think the pressure is on the interviewee during a job interview. However, considerable pressure is on the HR panel or interviewer responsible for hiring. That is because if a person does not get the job, they don’t get the job. Nothing has changed. If you hire the wrong person though, all hell can break loose within your business with drastic consequences. Here are some warning signs when hiring. No Pride In Their Appearance Some people buy new outfits for interviews. Guys get shaved and groomed and the girls preen more than the prettiest peacock who ever auditioned for NBC. Such is the importance of making a first impression that people tend to put emphasis on their looks when preparing for interviews. After all, this is an important, life-altering experience. However, some people ‘wow’ you for all the wrong reasons. A disorganized, messy look and lack of attention to detail in a candidate’s appearance can often transcend into their work habits. While you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, general appearance, cleanliness, appropriate accessories, and good taste all matter. When it comes to a candidate at an interview, what you see is exactly what you get. They Bad-talk Former Employers Interviewer: “Why did you leave your last job?” Interviewee: “Because my boss was a moron.”

is the norm. He predictably keeps meetings waiting to start, visits customers on his own schedule, and violates company cell phone guidelines by constantly calling to say that he will – just one more time be late. If a candidate cannot arrive on time for one of the most important meetings of his career, why would an employer expect different behavior on the job?

Don’t be the next moron to hire this character. While we are human and we know emotions can get the best of us, don’t look toward hiring someone who has problems controlling their emotions (especially when it deals with work). A good background check can give you some insight into the person’s real character. A lot of people vent on social networking platforms. Look out for those who update their Facebook status when they’re fired or tweet out a message about being bored at work. Poor communication skills While it’s true that job interviews tend to bring on feelings of stress, pressure, and anxiety, poor communication is still a red flag. Not every candidate will have glowing communication skills. However, effective communication is critical for success. Note whether the

candidate speaks too little or not enough and if they look you in the eye while they are speaking. These are all important communication factors to take into consideration. Tardiness Late or tardy is not just a hallmark of a careless, unsuccessful person, it is a demonstration of a lack of respect for people and their time. Most candidates never recover. They are flustered, unprepared, and apologetic while the interview team is composed, prepared, ready - and waiting, waiting, waiting. With so many qualified candidates, why would employers ignore this interview red flag? Employers sometimes ignore the message sent by a late candidate, usually for a job for which they have few skilled applicants. To their sorrow, they find that the candidate’s late behavior

Failure To Properly Answer Follow up Questions Prepared interviewees have effective, articulate sound bites developed and rehearsed to answer common and expected interview questions. Candidates expect that you will request details about their resume and cover letter claims – and follow up those questions with questions that probe for even more information. The proof of experience, appropriateness, and knowledge is demonstrated in their answers to your follow on questions. Can the candidate provide the detail you need to assess his or her competence in the area you are evaluating? Sample follow on questions that encourage the candidate to elaborate and provide details might include: Tell me more about how your team accomplished the project you just described for us. What role did you play on the team? We approach most projects using teams in our company; how often have you participated in a team approach to project planning? What problems have you experienced with team members who were not performing and how did you address these issues?

www.abstractbusinesstt.com • APRIL, 2013 • ABSTRACT BUSINESS 23



Management Mistakes To Avoid


business’ success can be directly attributed to how well it is managed. Managers are the oil that makes the cogs in the company machine work. However, some managers often make commonly overlooked mistakes which can lead to serious issues for the company. Here are some of them.

good parent as it does with a good manager. Don’t be inclined to play favorites. Once a manager shows obvious favoritism, he or she loses credibility and the respect of the rest of the team. It's hard to bounce back from this mistake. Instead, managers should bend over backwards to avoid even the appearance of favoritism.

Being Inflexible This has very little to do with your yoga abilities. However, it is important that managers a readily acceptable to change. A T-Rex might be cool in a movie, but dinosaurs suck in real life. Stay ahead of the curve or at least be willing to adapt. In today's rapidly changing business environment, it is crucial to be open to change and to learning new things. With that said, Be flexible in the ways you do things -- even if you end up sticking with your old methods in some situations.

Not communicating Information is power, making it tempting to keep it to yourself. But clear, appropriate communication is not only key to being a successful manager, it is also key to being a successful organization. It empowers employees to make informed independent decisions fast. And, that is the secret to a company that works like the proverbial well-oiled machine. Communication and listening go hand in hand. The more you listen, the more you understand your team’s constructive ideas and contributions, as much as their needs and concerns. Remember, often what’s not said is often as important as what is. Only with the full picture can you get to the truth. Give employees who ask for your time your focused attention. That way, they know they are important to you and trust you to hear what they say.

Putting Policy Before People Policies are not a resource, people are. Therefore, When policies need to be bent, search for reasonable solutions that keep all parties satisfied. Too many managers put policies ahead of people. It is important to have flexibility with both employees and customers (particularly important in a small company). Consistently putting policies ahead of people could lose you loyal customers as well as your key employees. A Tendency Toward Favoritism The same rule applies with a

Focusing on the Positives Say you’re discussing the reasoning behind a new project. There are tons of positives, and your employees should be excited, but for some reason they seem wary. Why? Employees instinctively look

24 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

for the downside because there is always a downside— and downsides always flow downhill. Share the negatives too. Freely describe the downsides. Show you understand that every project, every initiative, and every new process involves an upside and a downside. Sharing the positives is fun; sharing potential negatives is essential. While it isn’t easy to show doubt, your employees will respect you for it. Similarly, managers who continually focus on the downside of situations, without recognizing positive achievements or employee accomplishments, will soon find their employees are unmotivated and have one foot out the door. So don’t get caught up in the whole “glass is half full or half empty” rhetoric. Just be real and let common sense prevail. Taking on too Much Some people have a problem saying "no" to people? If so, you probably have far too many projects and commitments on your plate. This can lead to poor performance, stress, and low morale. What about those micromanagers who insists on controlling or doing all of the work themselves, because they can't trust anyone else to do it correctly. This can be a problem for everyone - not just managers! Either way, taking on too much is a poor use of your time and it can get you a reputation for producing rushed, sloppy work. To stop this, managers must learn the

subtle art of saying "yes" to the person, but "no" to the task. This skill helps you assert yourself, while still maintaining good feelings within the group. If the other person starts leaning on you to say "yes" to their request, learn how to think on your feet, and stay cool under pressure. Being selfish Being the boss means sharing the credit and taking the blame. It’s natural to want to point the finger at others when something goes wrong, but part of a manager’s job is to be responsible for your employees. Clearly, there are times when an employee goes rogue and is able to hide something from you, and the employee does need to be held accountable for their actions when they make mistakes. But, you should protect employees when innocent mistakes are made or when they had a hand in the decision made by the employee. You have to step up and accept part of the blame for not giving enough direction, giving the wrong advice, or not checking in with them. On the flip side, when your team does something right, make sure to credit the team members rather than hogging the glory. And finally, you should also know when to make sacrifices for your team. You need to give workers the opportunity to work on plum projects. If the team has to work extra hours, you should too. And consider giving employees the first pick for time off at the holidays or other times of the year instead of claiming the best dates.



Africa’s Changing Economic Landscape


t would be remiss to speak about surging economies without mentioning China. Since initiating economic reforms over forty years ago, the country has come to dominate world markets, finally unleashing its demographic power (1.3 billion people) by becoming the biggest exporter and second biggest importer of goods on the planet. In fact, China’s economy has greatly influenced the growth of some other economies. China’s reliance on Mongolian minerals has pumped a lot of money into the country. Macau has also benefitted from the influx of Chinese gamblers who spend money on their shores. However, this is not merely a list of the world’s fastest growing economies. Instead, it is an account of how great a leap Africa has made into the world economic scale

low starting GDP reflects higher growth rates than most first world countries. Almost the entire Rwandan working population relies on subsistence farming. Therefore, production is at a high and unemployment low. The government has further boosted its growth potential by investing in education and technology in order to make sure the country’s development is sustainable. Never heard of Sao Tome and Principe? Trust us when we say, you’ll hear of them soon. The cocoa producing colony is now less dependent on its thriving agriculture due to the investment in the development of its oil industry its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea. A Joint Development Zone over the area gives Sao Tome 40% of revenues. Added to that, Sao Tome has a burgeoning tour-

When someone thinks economic growth, Africa scarcely comes to mind; especially Rwanda (Though Africa is actually the 2nd largest growing economy in the world) as 11 of the fastest growing economies in the world hail from the motherland. When someone thinks economic growth, Africa scarcely comes to mind; especially Rwanda (Though Africa is actually the 2nd largest growing economy in the world). However, the funny thing about growth is that it is largely affected by the GDP. Rwanda’s

ism industry which will sure provide extra economic power to the nation. Zambia is another one of the continent’s most promising economies. It achieved over 6 percent growth every year since 2010. It has a thriving copper trade. In fact Zambia’s copper now accounts for almost half its exports. Plus, the technology boom has helped. We know a

26 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

confused lot of you may be saying Zambia is one of the poorest regions in the world, and it is. It is ranked 164 out of the 187 countries on the UN Human Development Index. Yet, its economic success is starting to translate into better lives for its citizens. Growth can be monitored by its 20 percent increase in primary school enrollment over the space of one year from 2008-2009. Now the country has full primary school enrollment increased education and health has resulted in a lowered mortality rate in infants each year since 2008. The West African Republic of Guinea (formerly known as French Guinea) is near the top of the chart in having natural resources. It has an estimated quarter of the world's proven reserves of bauxite. Iron ore, gold, and diamonds can also be found there in abundance. Plus,

Land, water, and climatic conditions provide opportunities for large-scale irrigated farming and agro-industry. Fishing also offers vast economic potential for citizens. Unfortunately, Guinea is a very corrupt country which makes access to foreign aid and investment difficult. Its estimated GDP for 2013 is percent. To say Ghana is doing well is an understatement. In 2012 the country experienced roughly 10 percent growth and 2013 seems to see a continuance of this. Ghana’s Services sector contributes almost half of the GDP, while oil and gold go a long way in making up the rest. Cocoa production gives the nation an alternative way to invest for the future. Inflation and reducing debt remains a serious challenge for the African nation even though it has a robust GDP.

Your moneY StArtS growing from dAY one. Introducing Sagicor’s new Tax Secure Annuity Plan. We’ve always been taught that every dollar counts. That’s never more apparent than when you plan your retirement. That’s why Sagicor’s Tax Secure Annuity Plan is a smart choice. It offers a tax savings advantage, plus it’s backed by a company you know will be there for you. Best of all, since your money starts growing from day one, the little you set aside today can help you have the security you need in the future. It’s time to get started. Speak to a Sagicor Advisor today.

Sagicor Life Inc is rated “A-” Excellent by AM Best Rating Company.



March Stock Summary Courtesy The Trinidad and Tobago Stock Exchange

Written Report for Wednesday, 27 March, 2013


verall Market activity resulted from trading in 11 securities of which 3 advanced, 3 declined and 5 traded firm. Trading activity on the First Tier Market registered a volume of 2,690,879 shares crossing the floor of the Exchange valued at $19,230,779.26. SAGICOR FINANCIAL COR-

PORATION was the volume leader with 2,542,200 shares changing hands for a value of $15,256,722.50, followed by NATIONAL FLOUR MILLS LIMITED with a volume of 41,228 shares being traded for $24,736.80. GUARDIAN HOLDINGS LIMITED contributed 30,574 shares with a value of $596,193.00, while UNILEVER CARIBBEAN

LIMITED added 29,000 shares valued at $1,481,624.00. UNILEVER CARIBBEAN LIMITED enjoyed the day's largest gain, increasing $0.29 to end the day at $51.09. Con-

Stocks Advancing: Security


Closing Quote ($)

Change ($)
















Closing Quote ($)

Change ($)













Closing Quote ($)



















28 ABSTRACT BUSINESS • APRIL, 2013 • www.abstractbusinesstt.com

versely, NATIONAL FLOUR MILLS LIMITED suffered the day's greatest loss, falling $0.06 to close at $0.60. CLICO INVESTMENT FUND was the only active security on the Mutual Fund Market, posting a volume of 7,645 shares valued at $164,810.80. CLICO INVESTMENT FUND advanced by $0.06 to end at $21.56. FORTRESS CARIBBEAN PROPERTY FUND remained at $5.00. PRAETORIAN PROPERTY MUTUAL FUND remained at $3.40. The Second Tier Market did not witness any activity. FNCU VENTURE CAPITAL COMPANY LIMITED (SUSPENDED) remained at $1.00. MORA VEN HOLDINGS LIMITED remained at $15.65.

In Wednesday's trading session the following reflect the movement of the TTSE Indices: * The Composite Index declined by 0.03 points (0.00%) to close at 1,095.15. * The All T&T Index advanced by 0.08 points (0.00%) to close at 1,761.71. * The Cross Listed Index declined by 0.02 points (0.04%) to close at 55.64. * The Composite Index comprises all Ordinary companies. * The All TTSE Index comprises Trinidadian companies only. * The Cross Listed Index comprises companies originating outside of Trinidad & Tobago.

Abstract B.G Is Published By Abstract Media Group, Premium Commercial Complex, San Juan, Trinidad, W.I. • Tel: (868) 638 1156/9 • Fax: (868) 638 1160. Printed By The Office Authority - Printing Division And Distributed By AMG

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.