Jamaica celebrated Emancipation Day on August 1, 2022. That is a pretty big milestone for any nation and with those years have come many triumphs and many setbacks. In the year 1834, the Slavery Abolition Act came into effect and marked the beginning of significant progress for Jamaica as a nation.
According to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), “While Emancipation Day was officially declared on August 1, 1834, it took nearly five more years for people in the Caribbean to be really free. Slaves that were newly freed after emancipation were forced into apprenticeships, where they had to continue to work uncompensated for their former slavers. Some accounts state that they were given a small stipend but still went through similar slavery working conditions. “
With this type of history as our foundation, there are inevitable years of undoing that must take place in the mindset of a people. Our national hero, Marcus Mosiah Garvey, infamously said, “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery” as a means of reminding a nation, that chains are not only physical but are intangible barriers in our minds that inhibit us from pursuing different things. These chains of mental slavery can affect the way we see business and entrepreneurship and as we reflect during this time on freedom, Entrepreneur Weekly wants to encourage business owners to emancipate themselves.
It all begins in the mind, and entrepreneurs tackle various misconceptions and lies that hinder them from pushing forward in business. Though there will be common ways of thinking that every entrepreneur experiences, there are certain thoughts that are specific to your environment. Jamaican entrepreneurs have various misconceptions and ways of thinking that if shifted can see them achieving more success in their endeavours.
It is important that as an aspiring and current entrepreneur, that you investigate the current business landscape in Jamaica and identify needs that are either not being completely met or are being partially fulfilled. In identifying these needs you must be able to explain how you would create a business that can meet these needs in the Jamaican context, with as many variables you can consider. In the creation of your business, there are societal setbacks that must be considered but not seen as deterrents. Choose to see these obstacles as opportunities, as well as invest in research and support to navigate these realities.
There is Help Available
Yes, entrepreneurship is a difficult journey, but you can make the journey more difficult by not accessing the available help. Many Jamaican entrepreneurs lament that there is no help available and that the government and other agencies are not looking out for its people. However, there are many programmes and initiatives that are available in Jamaica, that entrepreneurs miss out on because of lack of information.
According to the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), in 2021 “Micro, Small and Medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are essential to the Jamaican economy, making up over 97% of the island’s taxpaying businesses. The sector is responsible for the majority of employment in Jamaica and drives economic growth and development. As such, the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) continuously seeks to strengthen it through programmes that support MSMEs.” Entities such as the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA),the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), among others are specifically positioned in this sector to provide necessary support to the MSMEs. Entrepreneurs can make it their habit to visit relevant support agency websites to see what are the latest opportunities being provided.
Many local entrepreneurs are dissuaded about getting into entrepreneurship because of the economic state of the island but the reality is that as people begin to do business and good business, the state of the national economy will improve. The Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, said “There is nothing wrong with doing well in business; there’s nothing wrong in making a profit. We must not despise entrepreneurs; we must build them; we must appreciate them; we must encourage them. We want more entrepreneurs… because Jamaica will only grow when our businesses grow.”
JBDC – Supporting MSMEs in Jamaica
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is the government’s premier agency for business development support. The JBDC falls under the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce (MIIC) and strives to continually fuel the local economy through its services and programmes designed to support the growth and development of the MSME sector.
In this regard, the Incubation System Model supports the growth of enterprises via a process of diagnostic assessments, engagement of external partners, provision of specialised solutions, results-based capacity development, support and monitoring and evaluation.
The Business Advisory Services Department is the hub of client interactions specific to engaging MSMEs in the navigation of JBDC’s Incubation System and integration in the Corporation’s flagship MSMEs growth apparatus (The Business Monitoring Programme). Having entered the institution via the BAS department, the client is guided through customised services provided by the Marketing Services, Technical Services and/or the Project Management and Research Departments based on the needs determined by the preliminary assessment. The organisation also has incubators designed to support product development in industries including fashion, food and gift & craft.
The organisation frequently hosts informative sessions that stimulate the local ecosystem. In fact, there is currently a series being conducted in the Virtual Biz Zone webinar, focused on developing the entrepreneurial mindset. Entrepreneurs can use the JBDC’s YouTube page as a source of educating themselves at an introductory level.
The organisation hosts more in-depth targeted workshops which are specifically designed for entrepreneurs at crucial stages of development. These include: Starting a Business, Fundamentals of Business and Managing a Business. There are also workshops which target producers in the manufacturing sector, particularly gift & craft, fashion and food. See you soon!