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Increase Profitability by Forming Clusters, says JBDC CEO

Kingston, Jamaica, October 16, 2015 – CEO of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Valerie Veira is urging Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) to engage in cluster activity to generate higher income. She was speaking at a recently held international seminar “Technology transfer to countries in Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific and Business Support” in Brno, Czech Republic.

According to Ms. Veira, data from the field indicates that the lack of a business plan, access to finance and the ability to export are key obstacles to growth within the MSME sector and clustering is an effective means of solving these issues with the help of government and the private sector. “Clusters are a strategic networking of entities engaged in co-related business activities that are linked horizontally, vertically, diagonally (and sometimes virtually) along the value chain that serve towards enhancing the competitiveness of both the individual entity and the cluster of entities,’ she explained.

Continuing, she added that cluster activity enables entrepreneurs to acquire critical skills including better management of the value chain, procurement management, marketing, as well as to achieve economies of scale/scope. “It facilitates bonding and fellowship so you know you’re not alone, entrepreneurs share ideas and best practices and they gain greater access to resources such as finance. This type of environment creates the right conditions towards increased profitability,” she said.

Ms. Veira says though more than 80% of entrepreneurs indicate a willingness to be part of a cluster, only a few have been formed so far. The government must facilitate and sometimes trigger and so the JBDC has been instrumental in the development of clusters, through continuous training and development, facilitating access to financing, hand-holding and administrative support such as office space. “These clusters include Egg producers who exported 27, 000 dozen eggs to Trinidad in December 2009 (Jamaica Egg Cluster), SPA Jamaica (Jamaica Wellness Cluster), International Contemporary Furniture Fair (Authentic Jamaican Gift & Craft Cluster), Island Couture (Jamaica Fashion & Apparel Cluster) and the Jamlamb brand – producer of lamb sausages, lamb ham (Small Ruminants Cluster),” she said.

Ms. Veira pointed out that MSMEs make up approximately 90% of the business sector; therefore their sales are often equal to the income of large companies. “The local clusters have learned to import together, and many of them assert themselves to the international markets very successfully,” she added.

Following her presentation, Ms. Veira was lauded by the Business Platform for Foreign Development Cooperation, Czech Republic in a letter of commendation. “Your presence and presentation added dignity and great importance to this event. I am glad we have succeeded in attracting the attention of important persons to the topic of transfer technologies to countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific. Your presentation impressed not only the audience at the seminar but also other delegates. We have been asked by many of them to provide and send your presentation to them. I believe that your visit and meetings with entrepreneurs here wasn’t the last one,” said Libor Novak, Chairperson of the Executive Committee.

The seminar participants were addressed by representatives of foreign business support institutions from Jamaica, Botswana and Burandi. The main motive of all contributions was the sustainability of business activities. Although trade relations between Europe and Africa are considered a commercial matter, it is necessary to emphasize the existence of European instruments to support entrepreneurship in the ACP program, and other institutions that receive subsidies from the European Development Fund (EDF), into which The Czech Republic contributes a considerable amount.

The JBDC is an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce.

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