A large part of our Jamaican culture is a trait passed down from our ancestors of industrious gainful employment. There are scores of local proverbs that chastise the lazy, the late riser and those who choose ease versus the path of hard meaningful work to get ahead in life. Entrepreneurship is in the fabric of Jamaica’s culture and an undeniable attitude of independence that feeds into what we see as entrepreneurship today.
Jamaicans are notorious for the idea of “tek yuh hand mek fashion,” where limited resources are turned into livelihoods and bare minimum is turned into family businesses. Rural entrepreneurs are particularly familiar with this mode of operation and with this has provided great support to the island’s economy. The uncanny ability of rural Jamaicans to conceptualise brilliant solutions to the problems of lack and need have driven many individuals to pursue the path of entrepreneurship, with many rural entrepreneurs being able to capitalise on the resources provided from their environment and skillsets passed down through tradition.
Business – Rurally Speaking
An unfortunate thought that a few persons might have because of lack of exposure might be that the heart of Jamaica’s entrepreneurial pursuits are centralised in the Kingston and St. Andrew urban areas. This idea blocks out a large part of the pulse of entrepreneurship in Jamaica that sees rural entrepreneur’s work impact a myriad of industries.
There is an unspoken “Jamaican Dream” that many aspire to that involves the solid education of children, the continuance of family legacy and the avoidance of the hand-to-mouth pattern. Therefore, many have chosen the path of entrepreneurship that provides them with the freedom to pursue the skills that were gifted to them by their parents and fore parents in industries such as agriculture, fisheries, manufacturing, tourism, and traditional enterprises often referred to as “mom and pop shops”. The personality of entrepreneurship often changes based on what the environment will allow you to facilitate and rural environments are poised for success with natural resources. The inspiration for entrepreneurship will vary from parish to parish and will be based on needs and lifestyle and there are unique realities in a rural space.
In Honour of Community and Family
Another underlying thread in many rural parishes is the ethos of community and family that often inform how business is done. The spirit of entrepreneurship in rural communities is often rooted in the view of supporting a community’s needs and solving day-to-day problems of family. We see the very fundamental and practical solutions businesses provide that undoubtedly help their villages from the farmer to the market vendor, the shop owner, the store keeper, the woodwork shop owner, the welding shop owner, the dressmaker/tailor, craft worker, supermarket operator, agro-processor, bee farmer, honey seller and so much more.
JBDC and Out-of-Town Entrepreneurs
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) has business centres island-wide where entrepreneurs can benefit from business development support. These services include: Access to Information, Assessment, Counselling, Training, Handholding and Partner Services. The centres are located in the following parishes but also provide these services to the parishes listed in parentheses.
- St. Thomas – (Portland)
- St. Ann – (St. Mary)
- Manchester- (St. Elizabeth)
- St. James- (Trelawny)
- Westmoreland- (Hanover)
Mr. Harold Davis, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of JBDC noted that “Kingston is not Jamaica and the drive for the entrepreneurship is a national phenomenon and it is happening right across the island.” Continuing, Mr. Davis said “Entrepreneurship pursuits are happening islandwide and there are basic values that are common to all entrepreneurs and JBDC’s support has not changed. What will change is the environment and perhaps the product or service, but the JBDC supports entrepreneurs everywhere.”
What To Look Forward To
Entrepreneur Weekly will feature the constituents that business centres support with engaging and inspiring entrepreneurial journeys over the next few weeks. Entrepreneurs from various parishes across the island will be highlighted with their unique stories of success amidst hardship, the role business development has played in their journey and the impact they have made in various industries within their locale. Readers can look forward to the inner workings of entrepreneurs within agriculture and agro-processing, tourism and gift and craft, to name a few.