An agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce, the JBDC is Jamaica’s premier business development organisation working collaboratively with government, private sector, as well as, academic, research and international communities.



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A stakeholder within the local network of small business development centres (SBDC) is proposing the use of more data-driven models to drive the growth of small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) and push the services they offer locally.

Speaking at a recent training session, manager of business advisory services at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Melissa Barrett, referencing the international SBDC model, said it has a methodology of assessing, counselling, monitoring, and supporting clients, which has been found to be useful in how they track the economic benefits of members across their network.

A similar and even stronger model, one driven by data, she believes, is needed locally if greater support is to be given to the small business sector.

“We are capturing some data but not enough to demonstrate the strength we possess. We are, therefore, more desirous of establishing specific targets and systems that all members will follow if they are to yield the results we want to see,” she stated.

“We are interested in tracking impact measures, such as formalisation, export growth, start-up times, revenue growth, margin improvement, and employment. We also want to track milestones, ranging from the time they obtain proper licence and permits to when they have their intellectual properties (IPs) registered along with any requited certification for products,” she added.

Championing the need for the inclusion of more data, Barrett pointed to guidelines, such as the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for which achievability, she said, was tied to the establishment of strong business frameworks.

“We are now looking beyond businesses to also zoom in on social entities from which we can capture information on gender, the number of youth in business as well as data linked to the different economies, whether blue, green, or orange.

“If we delve deeper into the data that can be captured, we can become more targeted in our approach in driving certain industries and deploying resources to where it’s needed most,” Barrett said.

The local SBDC network, which is an adaptation of the American SBDC model, currently comprises 15 locations spanning tertiary institutions, government, and private sector organisations islandwide. The model, which is being implemented by the JDBC, aims to offer technical and managerial assistance to MSMEs. On the other hand, the US model, touted as one of those providing the largest and most successful network of assistance to SMEs, currently services clients through more than 1,100 centresb— more than 90 per cent of which are housed on university campuses.

Outside of the general technical and advisory services, the US network also offers problem-solving assistance to help small businesses access capital and develop and exchange new technologies. This while helping clients to improve their business planning, strategies, operations, financial management, personnel administration, marketing, export, sales, and several other areas required for small business to grow and expand, improve management, increase productivity, and to drive innovation.

“The international SBDC model is based on relationship building to help entrepreneurs achieve their business objectives. In our local environment, the ecosystem, however, tends to be occupied by a lot of persons who are hustling rather than meaningfully engaging in entrepreneurship. As a result, a lot of our local business owners are missing out as they are not doing all that is required, hence we believe the international model and relying on more data to drive the process can be helpful in addressing this,” Barrett added.

Source Jamaica Observer:


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