Starting a business is not an easy undertaking, especially for persons venturing into entrepreneurship for the first time.
However, help is available, courtesy of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).
They offer a suite of services for persons who need to get their ventures up and running.
Speaking on an episode of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service’s ‘Finance Matters’ television programme, JBDC Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Harold Davis, said the entity is the premier organisation responsible for micro, small and medium-size enterprise (MSME) business development in Jamaica.
“That means we have a suite of business and technical services that will take… MSMEs from concept to market. If you come to us with an idea, we will help you through the ideation process, to where you structure your business,” he informed.
The JBDC, which was established in 2001, ensures that budding entrepreneurs are given sound advice to create formidable businesses.
“If you’re looking to expand into new markets, if you’re looking to develop your product, if you’re looking [at] internationalisation, we help you from concept to market. We literally walk with you through the various processes and products that you need to have established, to move you from point A to point B,” Mr. Davis further informed.
He highlighted the extent of assistance the JBDC offers with product and process development.
The Deputy CEO indicated that the entity has designers and engineers on staff “to help you to develop your product, whether it is a physical or a virtual product… [and] your process, to make sure that [this] is efficient.”
The JBDC also provides services under its ‘Things Jamaican’ marketing channel.
Through this medium, over 500 local businesses have the opportunity to display their merchandise in outlets at the Corporation’s office at 14 Camp Road, and Devon House on Hope Road in St. Andrew, as well as the Norman Manley International Airport.
Mr. Davis said Things Jamaican, which the JBDC acquired in 2001, affords many businesses with easy access to local and international markets.
He also highlighted the Things Jamaican online platform, noting that this is “doing very well… in this pandemic period.”
Mr. Davis said the platform presents “a glorious opportunity for these 500-plus businesses to have a marketing channel that really reaches the world digitally.”
He indicated that to be part of this channel, “you have to be a client of the JBDC”, adding that “there is [a] process of onboarding and [ensuring] that when we offer you a product and service, it is right for you.”
“We assess if what you need is market access and whether your product fits into the mantra of Things Jamaican.” Mr. Davis informs.
The Deputy CEO emphasised that for products to be included in the Things Jamaican suite, they must meet international standards.
“For us, it’s not about a Jamaican product only, per se. But it must meet world class standards to [be able to] stand up beside any product… internationally. So, we’d go through a market and product assessment process for you to enter the Things Jamaican shop itself. Then, from that point, the procurement process happens to make sure you that have a presence in the store,” he explained.
Mr. Davis said since the COVID-19 pandemic, the JBDC has had to make a shift in terms of how it offers services to the public.
“We have been on a digital transformation journey to make sure that all our products and services are available digitally. Before the pandemic, we had to offer services face to face. But now all those products have to be offered online,” he informed.
Mr. Davis indicated that just after the pandemic’s onset, the entity developed a series of virtual workshops, among them the ‘JBDC Biz Zone’.
“We have had almost 150 different iterations of [the] Biz Zone since 2020, including, ‘how to start your business’ [and] ‘intellectual property management’. We [also] had a series… focused on our creative industries,” the Deputy CEO added.
Jamaica’s creative industry is, perhaps, one of the most recognisable globally, having produced world class artists, artistes and musicians.
It is for this reason that the JBDC said it holds the industry close to its heart, with 80 per cent of its clients being creatives.
“Whether it is gift and craft, gastronomy, products, whether it is specialised services, media, [or] the performing arts… they all fall under that banner of the creative and cultural industries,” Mr. Davis explained
He indicated that in 2020, the JBDC led the first ever mapping of Jamaica’s cultural and creative industries, which was done in partnership with the British Council.
“The creative industries arguably have been hardest hit by the pandemic. We want to be at the forefront and helping those set of industries to rebound, and rebound even greater with greater resilience.” Mr. Davis said.
He added that “we are looking at new angles, at new ways to get to the market, looking at new business structures, new niches within the creative and cultural industries; that is our commitment.”
Mr. Davis said the JBDC continues to sit at the table to influence policy and ecosystem development to ensure there is movement and development of MSMEs in Jamaica.
“Our commitment is to continue to work at the macro level with the businesses themselves; but also, at the meso and policy level, to see how it is that we can affect adequate and effective policy to move our creative industries to where [they] ought to be… the number one set of industries in Jamaica,” he added.
The JBDC has 14 offices across the island along with partner agencies. The offices are in most of the main tertiary institutions through its Small Business Development Centre Network.
Persons can visit their website at www.jbdc.net for more information.