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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Shavuot International, a company that produces authentic Jamaican products for both foreign and local consumption, has turned to the Export Max III export development initiative to expand its success in the export market.

Export Max III is managed by the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) in collaboration with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Jamaica Manufacturers & Exporters’ Association (JMEA). Its aim is to support medium and small enterprises in their quest to access new international markets for their products, and to increase Jamaica’s export sales.

This is a mission which resonates with Joel Harris, marketing director of Shavuot International. Ninety-five per cent of Shavuot’s products, which include herbal teas, dried spices, herbal powders, Jamaican black castor oil and gluten-free flour, are sold in foreign countries, but the brand felt it was time to further expand its presence internationally. Export Max became the avenue selected to accomplish this goal. “We were motivated to become involved in Export Max III for the potential to explore new markets based on buyer engagement,” Joel Harris, marketing director at Shavuot International, explained,“Shavuot has experienced rapid growth through exports, first into the UK and the US. We are now in 15 markets across Europe, the US, the Caribbean and Australia.”

For Harris, the journey is far from complete, and the success that has been achieved is a sign of how much more market space the company can occupy. The manufacturer said that the Export Max III programme will be the bridge to more markets, as it provides valuable market trends and opportunities.

The manufacturer said another motivation for becoming involved was the potential to develop a network of linkages that come from working with other Export Max III participants.

“Within the participants of the Export Max network, there is a possibility for other alliances or partnerships that could further strengthen our growth,” he said.

Harris is also looking to the initiative to assist in identifying possible funding for marketing support; for example, in the area of website development to gain access to markets online. An assessment of the company’s operation will determine whether restructuring may be needed in marketing efforts.


Export Max III has undertaken a gap analysis to identify developmental needs in participating companies, and has activated a digital marketing strategy for companies to access new markets and distribution channels. This is good news for companies like Shavuot.

Harris enlisted with the initiative last year and acknowledges that the COVID-19 pandemic was an obstacle to its early fruition, but within the past three months activities have gained momentum.

He has recently participated in sensitisation sessions, which enabled participants with the assessment tools to examine their business structures as well as their export market potential.

“The programme is also developing the participants’ ability to be a part of upcoming virtual trade shows in spite of COVID-19, which, of course, is of great benefit to us to seek other markets,” he disclosed.

According to Norman Naar, vice-president of sales and promotions at JAMPRO, this support is part of Export Max III’s post-COVID strategy of engaging retailers, distributors and buyers through virtual ‘B2B’ meeting platforms and virtual trade shows. Naar also said that the programme is currently facilitating an e-commerce strategy for the participating companies. He said this is a necessary shift to conform to the new norms and requirements of social distancing.


Shavuot International has a culture of contributing to the community through business. The farm which grows the produce for Shavuot International and the manufacturing operation which creates the final products are located in Wynter’s Pen, Spanish Town.

The company also hires its staff directly from the local community. The marketing director says that no employees were laid off during the COVID-19 pandemic, and Shavuot believes that this renewed focus on export will help the company to increase its complement of staff.

To date, with 95 per cent of its products in overseas markets and with a robust presence in supermarkets and other outlets islandwide, Shavuot International is achieving its mission. Now, it is looking to expand through exports to continue fulfilling its purpose as a community builder.

Shavuot International employs close to 40 people.

Source: The Gleaner Jamaica


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