Business Minister Dominic Gaskin told small business owners that they needed not to wait on oil, rather they have to prepare their businesses to provide services in order to capitalise on the benefits of the oil and gas sector.“Everyone is talking about local content and the need for Guyanese to be involved in the opportunities that this new industry will create. As a Government, we cannot afford to wait for oil, we have to prepare for oil, and businesses, whether big or small, must also prepare themselves for oil and the impact of oil,” he said.The Minister made the comments at the Small Business Development Finance Trust Inc (SBDF) Annual General Meeting on Monday at the Regency Hotel.Gaskin said that small and micro enterprises were a key component of the economy and needed much attention from all stakeholders.Business MinisterDominic GaskinThe Chairman’s report highlighted a further decline in vending which affected the SBDF’s performance. However, the Minister said that the decline should serve as a catalyst to rethink and reinvent the services offered.“I think there has been an ease in spending, and we have to accept that for whatever reason people aren’t spending as they used to; that doesn’t mean that people are not spending, it means that they are spending in other ways, so these situations are a chance to rethink, to refocus, and do things a little differently,” he advised.Gaskin encouraged the business owners to know the needs of the market and to supply services based on those needs. Additionally, he urged them to consider the foreign markets, since the local market is small and would not be able to satisfy their production rate.SBDF Managing Director Manjula Brijmohan called for private and public partnerships to ensure the success of small entrepreneurs. She added that the small businesses needed much attention and there must be a strategic development plan to ensure their success.“The local businesses must grow faster for there to be development. Local business must provide jobs and skills necessary to raise income and living standards to help rid of poverty. It requires strong local support and access to financial aid,” Brijmohan said.SBDF is an agriculture-dominated financial institution, and is committed to moving fresh farm produce and transforming the waste into small-scale industrial products for export and local markets.Brijmohan said that everything affected investments and the Government must assist in ensuring that there was a level playing field to facilitate those investments. She added that infrastructure and strategic support from the Government could not be overemphasised and called for better practices to ensure small businesses survive.“We all need our voices to be heard and our partners to get in the playing ground and come and play the game of moving upward. We are tired of talking poverty. Guyana has no need to be called a poverty-ridden country; you have so much resource, you have little bit of people and yet you can’t use it? So catch yourself and get on,” she expressed.The SBDF also awarded its outstanding clients at the function.