Jamaica is replete with creative people, many of whom have turned their talents into business ventures. Some of these enterprises have evolved into successful entities, and have even taken a share of the export market, while many others have failed outright, and/or have been struggling to be viable.
One entity that is existing to assist creatives to evolve into successful entrepreneurs is the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries that offers help in many areas of business development. Since 2018, it has been hosting Design Fusion, an intensive three-month business development programme for creatives.
It is a collaborative endeavour of three units of the JBDC: technical services, business advisory services, and marketing services. It is a nursery programme, according to Colin Porter, manager of technical services, that targets people at different stages of business and who have design as the core of their business. The programme looks at “a wide variety of areas that are important to such enterprises that want to formalise what they are doing, and are put on to a path where they can be commercially viable,” he said.
The last cohort of participants was given their certificates on Wednesday, January 29, in a closing ceremony and exhibition at the JBDC Incubator and Resource Centre at 76 Marcus Garvey Drive in Kingston. One hundred and sixty people applied, 30 got accepted, and 24 stayed the course. They were trained in the areas of fashion, home décor, and accessories. Three of the 24, Saffron Brown McDonald, Marcia Adams and Jo-Ann Morris, shared their journeys with the gathering by way of testimonials.
In her opening remarks, Valerie Viera, chief executive officer at JBDC, said the creative/orange industries are a big thing for the JBDC and, as such, Harold Davis, deputy CEO at JBDC “is leading a programme where we are mapping the industry to see how we can encourage the Government to set the backdrop, the ecosystem, to make sure that you have all the opportunities to move forward with the full support that you need”.
Floyd Green, minister of state in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, in his address, told the former trainees that the programme’s theme of ‘Integrate, Innovate and Emerge’ is not just a theme, but “tools that you can use to build your businesses”.
He said Design Fusion is important to his ministry as “it helps us to help you make use of the latest innovations to improve your business strategy, and to become the best version of yourself and your business. We have a responsibility as a government and an organisation to provide the opportunity for you to bring those dreams to reality,” Minister Green said.
Guest speaker Randy McLaren, chief dream maker at Bresheh Enterprises, used his story of the birth, evolution and challenges that his business encountered as the background for his theme of turning dreams into reality. In an energetic and engaging presentation, McLaren exhorted the graduands not only to be dreamers, but also to evolve into dream-makers. And in a well-received plug, Minister Green demonstrated to the audience the usefulness of one of two bags that he has bought from Bresheh Enterprises.