In building a support system for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) said its endgame is to help businesses in this category become formalised and develop resilient structures.
While noting that MSMEs include creatives and farmers, chief executive officer of JDBC Valerie Veira told journalists at a recent Jamaica Observer Business Forum that formalising doesn’t always translate to registering with the Companies Office of Jamaica.
“Formalisation means you’re structured to do business, and you’re sustainable, and you’re structured to create generational wealth. There needs to be resilience in your business model,” she continued.
Veira outlined further that a part of JBDC’s goals is developing an enabling environment for MSMEs, facilitating adequate and appropriate financing, creating a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, adding social value through business, and addressing cross-cutting issues that include women, youth and persons with disabilities.
In fulfilling its mission of creating resilience in businesses across the island the JBDC provides capacity-building services through 13 small business development centres (SBDCs) as well as through its head office at 14 Camp Road in Kingston.
“We also have some of them in partnerships with tertiary institutions, which we expect them to bring another level of support which is the research aspect [and] technical aspect,” Veira explained, naming College of Agriculture, Sciences and Education; Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts; the University of the Commonwealth Caribbean; Northern Caribbean University; University of Technology, Jamaica; Caribbean Maritime University; and The University of the West Indies, Mona.
These partnerships and SBDCs help the JBDC to add institutional capacity to businesses but also serve as feeders into the organisation’s programmes designed to help MSMEs — nurseries , incubators and accelerators.
“So our programmes are designed based on the stages that each business is at, from the pre-conceptual phase all the way to going global,” manager of business advisory services at JBDC, Melissa Barrett shared with the Business Observer.
“There’s an emphasis on showing the businesses, from an early stage, all the areas of business that need to be considered and what you focus on at the nursery stage, versus the incubator phase, versus the accelerator phase,” she added.
At the early stage, Barrett pointed out, the focus is on validating the business model — which includes verfiying that an MSME has a viable product, the product is solving a problem, and it is driving revenue. This is also the stage when businesses build relationships and strengthen their value chains.
“When we have programmes it’s also an opportunity to have them network, so the programme is not just you alone — it’s persons who can be inputs, persons who can be your marketers, so we try to create linkages in the groups,” Barrett outlined.
“And we have engineers who work along with them to help them to design their organisations for growth. So it’s looking at the business in 360 [degrees] and having an entrepreneur understand that ‘If you’re going to be international… it’s not going to be you alone,’ ” she said further.
But even as the JBDC aims to provide enterprise development, ecosystem support, and institutional capacity-building opportunities to MSMEs, it also recognises the need to address Jamaica’s identifier as a market of samples.
Janine Fletcher-Taylor, marketing and retail manager at JBDC, noted that while Jamaican businesses are known for innovating — creating new products — there are challenges ensuring a sustainable supply to markets.
“What we find is that whenever we get into seasons where there is a high demand …we have an issue with order fulfilment. So we don’t have a challenge getting access to markets, we don’t have a challenge with demand, what we have a problem with is planning. So what we want to do is to bring to the fore the need for value chains, and supply chain management, and all the components, to talk,” she outlined.
Disassociating Jamaica from its identity as a sample market, Fletcher-Taylor said, would require that businesses address “the other nodules in the value chain” like securing a “sustainable supply of raw material”.
Another way in which the JBDC addresses challenges with order fulfilment is to help businesses understand the intricacies of contracts.
“You have to guide companies to structure their operations in a sound way so that sustainability will be built in their [business] model,” JBDC Deputy CEO Harold Davis stated.
Source: Jamaica Observer