The Entrepreneur Weekly is taking you on a trip to the cool and lovely parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth. For many Jamaicans who have spent their lives in the hustle and bustle of Kingston and St. Andrew, visits to these two parishes can give joyful flashbacks of repose and stillness. This however does not negate the industrious DNA of locals within these parishes as agriculture, agro-processing and service industry are mainstay features of these two parishes.
Business in Manchester
The Jamaica Legacy Project reported that “The agricultural industry has long been and still remains the primary provider of employment in the parish of Manchester. The soil and the climate are good for the cultivation of fruits such as strawberries and peaches, which are not typical in tropical climates.” The parish is also a major producer of crops such as coffee, irish potatoes, coffee and citrus fruits. Because of the richness of agriculture within this parish, there is also potential for entrepreneurs within the eco-system to find meaningful engagement through agro-processing and even transportation. In fact, according to the Jamaica Observer “Approximately 100 registered farmers in Mount Prospect, Manchester are now better able to transport their produce to market following the rehabilitation of a 300-metre stretch of roadway in the community.”
Bauxite is also a major industry that exists within Manchester with major bauxite plants providing employment for a number of citizens of the parish. When you think of Manchester, you may not automatically think tourism but interestingly, the parish was home to two of Jamaica’s popular hotels – Mandeville Hotel and the Hotel Manchester. However, long before the phenomenon of Airbnb, there had been a segment in the tourism industry called community tourism. It essentially sees residents in the local communities opening their homes, providing meals, tours and accommodation for travellers. According to the Jamaica Legacy Project “Community tourism allows visitors to get in touch with the people of Jamaica, explore un-exploited areas such as mountains, valleys and un-crowded beaches.”
Business in St. Elizabeth
A fun-fact about St. Elizabeth is that it was once the largest parish in Jamaica. It was subsequently split to form parts of Westmoreland and Manchester. The parish supplies a substantial percentage of the national domestic food needs, through fruits and vegetables, poultry, beef and tubers and thus being dubbed the bread basket parish for years now. The Black River also supports an important shrimp and freshwater fishery.
According to the Jamaica Legacy Project “The major areas of economic activities in the parish are agriculture and bauxite mining, making the parish one of the principal contributors to government revenue. Tourism in the parish is at a minimum but has great potential for development given the natural attractions in the parish. The focus on manufacturing and industry has been increasing with local and foreign investments but it is agriculture that continues to dominate the economy.”
Along with being a booming centre for agriculture, fishery and bauxite mining, the parish also boasts quality craft and food processing industries. According to the Jamaica Legacy Project “Hats, bags, baskets, mats and other articles made from locally grown thatch and sisal, have found favour throughout the island and have finally established the parish as a leading craft centre.” Additionally, “St. Elizabeth has a food processing plant at Bull Savannah for the processing of tomatoes, carrots and pineapples.”
JBDC and Entrepreneurs in Manchester and St. Elizabeth
Mr. Jean-Luc Lewis, Business Development Officer who serves both Manchester and St. Elizabeth at the JBDC Business Centre says that entrepreneurial pursuits are within agriculture, agro-processing and the service industry. However, he also noted that he has noticed emerging industries such as cosmetics, beekeeping and nutraceuticals. He also asserted that entrepreneurship within these parishes have “Many young entrepreneurs who are very resourceful and creative.”
Mr. Lewis noted “Myself along with the Financial Support Officers serve the clients in these parishes by assisting them with the costing and pricing of their products and services.” Continuing, he said “Many of the clients require assistance with making their products market-ready and compliant with government regulations. The technical services and marketing services units have been providing assistance in this area.”
The emerging cosmeceutical industry has a projected global value of US$675 million. With its abundance of raw materials and natural ingredients, Jamaica is perfectly poised to manufacture quality products that are suitable for hair, skin and body care; for both the local and export markets.
Through a survey, JBDC is seeking to ascertain what support may be needed for entrepreneurs involved in or seeking to be involved in the creation, manufacture and trade of cosmeceuticals.
The dynamism and fruitfulness of these two parishes are a tell-tale sign that business is in no way only booming in Kingston and St. Andrew. Entrepreneurs and prospective entrepreneurs within these parishes can begin to look where their passions and interests fall in the various industries and make their mark wherever they see fit.