Many grateful for Government’s financial help – Tough for small businesses
Article by: Rachelle Agard – Daily Nation February 1, 2021
PRACTITIONERS in the beauty industry are grateful for Government’s “cushion”, but some are concerned about what will happen to their businesses after the two-week national pause.
During a press conference last Thursday, Minister of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Kerrie Symmonds said Cabinet had approved assistance of $750 per week for shops over the two-week period, beginning on Wednesday, while vendors will be given $250 for the same time frame. The assistance would extend to beauty salons, barbers, nail technicians, water sports and taxi operators.
Andrew Narine, of Trident Cutz, said this was not a good time for barbers.
“Last year when we were about to come back out in May, most of us would have spent our savings and most of the business money to maintain the shop while we were on lockdown. I am not one of those shops with a huge financial backing. Since reopening I have had to consider if it makes sense going on or what to do,” he said.
Narine, who had been operating for three years and with a staff of seven, said after consulting with an official, he was told that while he and his barbers were eligible for compensation, his receptionist did not qualify.
“I may have to sacrifice my portion and carry some for her. It is not easy. As the owner I have to make sure my staff is good during this hard time. How am I going to ensure my receptionist is taken care of? I can’t be home sitting down home eating a big meal knowing my receptionist scraping. I can’t get it do.”
He added that during the last lockdown, his bills had piled up and he was only now beginning to see his way.
Narine was also concerned that nothing was being put in place for businesses to sustain themselves.
“When I come back out, the bills will rack up and I have to find money to pay those. I will end up going through what I went through last May. I came back out with $50 in my pocket, and a heap of bills to catch up on. I now seeing my way because we had a good December, but this now put me back again,” he said.
Gabrielle Rochell, of Gabby’s Beauty Lounge, said she believed the move was a good initiative considering last time there was nothing in place for some self-employed people.
“I had applied for the $600 grant offered the last time and was denied assistance. That was based on the fact that I live home with my mother who is a pensioner. They said there was money coming in the house so I would be fine.
“As a mother of three, with my own life to live, my mother pension done spend when the bills come in the house. I bring in the food and handle the other half of living expenses. Now that they have a plan, I am eternally grateful,” she said.
Keisha Hoyte of Hair Xpressions, said the monetary offer was a good idea.
“If you’re not working at all, at least $1 500 is enough to get you through for two weeks. You’re still able to purchase food and pay bills,” she told the DAILY NATION.
Hoyte said her business had started to pick back up.
“It started slow but gradually picked up when we reopened. There was an influx of people when they started going back out to work, but with recent events, especially with the fall off from back-to-school, it has put a damper on work,” she said.
Another barber, who gave name as Sylvester, said if the money was only for two weeks he was satisfied, but he did think he could go beyond that. He said business was extremely slow and he had to be borrowing money from his children to pay his rent.
“Some days I come to work and cut one head, only one eyebrow, sometimes two heads; it really bad,” he said.
Sylvester said his shop used to be in Golden Square, but since the construction began had been forced to rent a shop Bay Street.
“I was supposed to get a shop out here until they finish the market to get back my barbershop. Government had promised to give me a space here to operate from until they finish the market, but nothing has been done so I had to end renting out here,” he said.
Hairstylist Stacy Stuart, of Stacy Stuart Lifestyle, said she did not think the $1 500 offer would be enough, but it was better than nothing at all. She has a staff of two and an apprentice who received stipend.
Stuart, who also runs a boutique in Quayside Centre, Christ Church, said business there had been struggling as well. She added she did not staff to think about per se as conducted most of the business over there alone, but the bills were still piling up.