Demming: Why SMEs like Splice Studios are the real test of our ‘Roadmap to Recovery’

So the dream of Splice Studios is no more. If Abigail Hadeed—with her brand recognition, contacts, creativity, and privilege, could not navigate to save her business during this pandemic—then tell me who can. Just reading her post was painful:

‘Thank you all who have shared, supported or created at Splice for our short lived but yet still inspiring existence. Like the Phoenix I will rise from the ashes.’

Photo: Keeping my head above water in a pandemic…
(Copyright Abigail Hadeed/Splice Studios)

Like the crisis of Errol ‘The Independent’ Fabien and Gayelle, hers was brought into the public domain but with a different result. Splice is up for sale while Gayelle, through crowd funding, has pivoted to a different kind of offering.  

For each Abigail Hadeed, there are hundreds of others who are quietly drowning and cannot even hold up a hand to attract attention. She is a good example of one who breaks the stereotype that says creativity and entrepreneurship seldom reside in the same body; and in T&T, she is not alone.

Why did it come to this? Could it be that the banks have not changed their operations to suit the changed economic context? Is it that there is no end to foreclosing on defaulters and what next? 

Is there a viable resale market in an economy which has crashed to a halt? Is it that the business ecosystem remains firmly rooted in pre-Covid norms?

A reimagined role for the banking sector would be to shift from the 1980s ‘greed is good’ template, and move to a practice of preventing customers and clients from coming to this screeching halt. The reality is that businesses are closed, so there is no in-flow of cash but their overheads remain the same.

Photo: Splice Studios in Port of Spain before the hurt of the Covid-19 pandemic.
(Copyright Abigail Hadeed/Splice Studios)

When businesses run out of options to pay their overheads, they are forced to walk away, whether it be from office rent or rental of a Lynx/Credit card  machine. The greater the number of crashed businesses, the more difficult our recovery will be.

We know that foot traffic will return sooner rather than later, so this is the time for deeper analysis and understanding of the possibilities. The idea should be: how can individual businesses and the banking sector collaborate for businesses to survive and thrive in the short-to-medium term rather than facing closure.

The collaboration is not simply between businesses and the financial sector, but with the government as well.  A visit to the Ministry of Finance’s website suggests a structured almost seamless approach to applying for the Entrepreneurial Relief Grant so it appears that businesses should not be in too much trouble.

The social media posts from such entrepreneurs, however, leave me uninspired—because clearly there is a formidable gap between what we say and what we’ve done (or not done), and this is reflected in the reality of our poor ranking on the Ease of Doing Business Index.

Photo: A barren room at Splice Studios.
(Copyright Abigail Hadeed/Splice Studios)

The Roadmap to Recovery document referenced the Small Business Enterprise (SME) Sector as accounting for more than 20,000 businesses and employing more than 200,000 persons. This is where urgent attention and focus is needed.  Organisations like Splice, Drink Wine Bar and a number of others must be saved if we want to ‘build back better’.


Wired868 has provided readers with solid, independent journalism since 2012.  If you appreciate our work, please contribute to our efforts. 

Support Independent Journalism

More from Wired868
Noble: Budgets, Foreign Exchange and Petro-Jumbies

“The real problem is that oil dollars have reduced us all to ‘petro-jumbies’, a people who have never explored our Read more

Dear Editor: Miracle Ex-Minister beats background check to land Trade job

Dear Former Minister Darryl Smith, Congratulations on your recent appointment as a commercial officer for the Ministry of Trade. Your appointment Read more

Noble: Heritage Stabilisation Fund Vibes—context needed urgently

“Grave fiscal irresponsibility!” was former Central Bank governor Jwala Rambarran’s characterization of the announcement of a US$900 million loss by Read more

Noble: T&T’s economic performance, the IMF and Professor Hosein’s gish gallop

More than half our population did not experience the ravages of the 1988 International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) intervention. This group Read more

Demming: Commendable that Gov’t proclaimed Procurement Legislation; but keep Lalchan!

“[…] The theft of billions of dollars could have been prevented if we had a fully functional [Office of Procurement Legislation] according Read more

Demming: Despers’ hard gift—how will they fund operating and maintenance costs?

Congratulations to Despers on receiving their second multimillion-dollar gift from the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Their first theatre gift Read more

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a communication strategist, political commentator and event planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing business communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise is a member of the HOPE political party.

Check Also

More transmissible, not necessarily more severe; new Covid-19 strain, JN.1, reaches T&T

Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first case of new Covid-19 variant, JN.1, according to Carpha …

One comment

  1. Denise we need to also add the heavy load that payments with time penalties attached such as NIB and PAYE and VAT and Corporate Taxes play in crushing small business. What ever little revenue is earned goes out to ensue no penalties which adds a further cash flow crunch

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.