The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture & Fisheries (MICAF) has inked a deal with American digital marketing company Kolau to help local entrepreneurs become more visible online.
The initiative is spearheaded by the Organization of American States (OAS), which has been promoting a digitisation plan for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, MSMEs, throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in partnership with Kolau.
Jamaica is the first Caricom member to have signed off on the agreement to use Kolau’s platform to improve Internet advertising for local companies. OAS, with assistance from MICAF and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, JBDC, aims to increase operational efficiency and profitability for some 25,000 MSMEs over the next three years through the marketing platform.
The service is at no cost to entrepreneurs and also comes with add-ons, such as free training in e-commerce and marketing.
“Where customers shopping online have gone from 50 per cent to 80 per cent, microbusinesses in Jamaica have stayed at roughly eight per cent in 2018. They stay offline; they have not adjusted to the customers’ need,” said Kolau founder and CEO Danny Sanchez-Mola during the signing ceremony at MICAF’s New Kingston offices on Thursday.
“The result of this mismatch is that the survival rate of especially microbusinesses keeps decreasing. Three out of four businesses in Latin America and the Caribbean die in the second year, and that has increased almost 20 per cent in 10 years,” Sanchez-Mola said.
The OAS MSME digitisation plan is already under way in El Salvador, Chile and Paraguay, where the goal is to digitise a total of 152,000 MSMEs combined. Since the launch of the platform, many local businesses have improved customer engagement, operational efficiency and employment numbers from the growth of the businesses. The platform has also aided in the formalisation of many small businesses.
Following the launch of the digitisation plan in Caricom, the next stop is Central America, including the Dominican Republic. The implementation cost was not disclosed.
The digitisation plan enable MSMEs to create a dynamic web page that intelligently positions itself in google maps, google ads as well as integrates e-commerce via Paypal in the web page to capitalise on the demand that exists for MSME’s products on the Internet. On average, the set-up takes 20 minutes.
By visiting the MICAF and the JBDC websites, entrepreneurs looking to capitalise on the initiative can click on Kolau’s banner to create their web page. No registration with the Companies Office of Jamaica is required.
“It is very important that entrepreneurs looking to launch their business ensure that their products are well prepared to enter the global market. Your products are not just a representative of you, but also a representation of Jamaica. For those who are not as tech-savvy, you can visit the JBDC and we will guide you through the process,” said JBDC CEO Valerie Veira.
The launch of the digitisation plan 2019-2022 forms a part of MICAF’s MSME policy, which highlights as one of its priorities the promotion and marketing of products and service through online networks.