Businesses located in St. Thomas are in significant need of technical assistance in key areas of business development. This, according to findings from the recently released National Needs Assessment Report, an initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Investment & Commerce led by the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.
The research initiative sought to determine non-financial business development needs as perceived by Micro, Small, & Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), determine the major obstacles to business growth and sustainability, explore the use and integration of the following in business processes: ICT, R&D, marketing, efficiency, innovation and creativity, pricing strategies and financial management methods, among other objectives. A total of 1499 MSMEs islandwide participated in the survey.
The findings highlighted the following non-financial development areas in which businesses had the greatest demand for technical support: financial management, marketing, information technology, general management, personal management, and international trade. The results also revealed that businesses’ demand for technical assistance varied by parish in all of the above areas, as well as, market readiness. More than 70% of respondents surveyed islandwide required technical assistance in financial management, information technology and marketing, demonstrating the need for heightened focus in those particular areas. Parishes’ needs were assessed in three categories: Most in Need, Second Most in Need and Third Most in Need, with St. Thomas being the only parish featured in all seven areas across the categories.
According to Lisa Taylor-Stone, Project Management and Research Manager at the JBDC, the MSME data is being used to guide the implementation of the Mobile Business Clinic Initiative. “The data points to the need for the initiative to place special focus on eastern parishes. A strong need exists for capacity building in non-financial development areas, particularly financial management, marketing and information technology. Upwards of 70% of businesses surveyed required assistance in these areas. Addressing this may require the injection of more resources into business development organizations in order to meet unmet demands of entrepreneurs,” she explained.
The Mobile Business Clinic Initiative was launched in September 2014 and is now on its final phase of year one, with three remaining clinics being staged in the parishes of St. Thomas, St. Catherine and Kingston & St. Andrew. The JBDC team, which mainly constitutes Business Development Officers, heads to the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay on January 28, 2016, where the day’s programme will be formatted to address the primary needs of the parish.
The MBCI merges the efforts of both public and private sector sponsors and partners who provide business development and technical support to MSMEs. The programme which is being implemented for three years (2014 -2017) is being executed under the theme “Strengthening the Capacity of Jamaican MSMEs” – a focus which has been consistent with the long-term vision of the MIIC and its keys agencies.