KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica’s Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) Network is proposing the use of data-driven models for business development. Speaking recently at a training session for the SBDCs, Manager of Business Advisory Services at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Melissa Barrett, said that the “international SBDC model has a methodology of assessing, counselling, monitoring and supporting a client in their process and then tracking how the support is leading to economic impact.”
SBDC Jamaica is an adaptation of the American SBDC model, which was mandated by the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce (MIIC) in 2015. It is the largest and most successful network of assistance to small and medium-sized enterprises in the United States, with more than 1,100 centres (over 90% of which are housed on University Campuses).
JBDC Extends Reach through SBDC Network
Speaking on strengthening the local expression of the model, Mrs. Barrett said, “We are capturing some data but not enough to demonstrate the strength and we are desirous of establishing more specific targets and systems that all the members will follow to yield the results we want to see. We are interested in tracking impact measures such as formalisation, export growth, business start, revenue growth, margin improvement and employment. We are also tracking milestones for instances getting proper license, permits, getting their IPs registered and certification for products.”
Commenting on the need for data, Mrs. Barrett said, “The MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy details the United Nation’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and a lot of them are able to be achieved through strong business frameworks.” Continuing, she said, “We are even now looking beyond business to looking at social entities, where we would be able to capture information on gender, youth in business and data that is linked to the different economies like the blue, green and orange. If we delve deeper into the data that can be captured, we can be more targeted in our approach to driving certain industries and aligning resources to where it’s most needed.”
Mrs. Barrett explained that the international SBDC model is based on relationship building to help entrepreneurs achieve their business objectives. “In our Jamaican environment the ecosystem is occupied by a lot of persons who are hustling more than actually practicing entrepreneurship. We may have the bigger entities, small and medium-sized but a lot the activities that are expected of an entrepreneur some of our local business owners are not doing them but we believe this model is helpful in addressing this,” she added.
Jamaica’s SBDC network is currently in 15 locations including tertiary institutions, government and private sector organisations across the island with the aim of being the main source of technical and managerial assistance for MSMEs. Through the SBDCs, the network is committed to serving the MSME sector because it creates new business and jobs, diversifies the economy, promotes stability and economic growth and aggregated growth of MSMEs drives the common good of improved economic and social development of the whole.
The JBDC, which is mandated to implement the SBDC model, has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the following organisations which now provide business support services: University of the West Indies (UWI), University of Technology (UTech), University of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC), Northern Caribbean University (NCU), College of Agriculture, Science & Education (CASE) Caribbean Maritime University (CMU) Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts (EMCVPA) and Sagicor Bank (SME Business Resource Centre). The SBDC model is enabling the JBDC to extend its reach to entrepreneurs. For more information on SBDC Jamaica, visit https://www.jbdc.net/project/small-business-development-centre-network/.