Business on the move - Mobile clinic heads to western Jamaica
Chad Bryan, Gleaner Writer
Out of an initiative implemented by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), a mobile business clinic has been created to give a fresh approach to working with micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME).
MSMEs are said to be the backbone of the Jamaican economy, accounting roughly for 90 per cent of jobs, according to Commerce Minister Anthony Hylton.
While the initiative was launched on September 16 in Kingston, last week Tuesday, November 4, the first of a series of community stops was held in Sam Sharpe Square, Montego Bay, St James. The mobile clinic will be travelling to various locations in the western end of the island before moving on to the eastern, northern and central parts of the country.
The literal vehicle for the initiative to stimulate business activity is a 2014 Nissan Urvan 350, donated by Fidelity Motors, the country's authorised distributor of new Nissan motor vehicles. The Urvan has been retrofitted with office capabilities, providing technical and capacity support to entrepreneurs.
In stock form, before being retrofitted, the 16-seater cost $4.9 million. It is well suited for the task which requires a combination of optimum fuel efficiency, power, capacity and manoeuvrability. "It has a 2.5 turbo diesel engine, manual transmission and is a high-roof and wide-body vehicle," said Andrew Channer, sales executive at Fidelity Motors.
After retrofitting the cost is $5.5 million. The vehicle is now equipped with a wide-screen television, printer capabilities, LED lighting for the interior, drawers, cabinets and other storage space, WiFi, a generator that enables the use of four to five laptop computers and a fire extinguisher, among other equipment.
Though in its infant stage, the mobile business programme has already seen approximately 300 start-up entrepreneurs turn out to participate in consultations and training seminars.
"It's been going pretty good. Persons have had the opportunity to sit with different personnel in finance, business monitoring, business development, JAMPRO and different persons from the industry that will assist the business development. A lot of the people felt motivated because they didn't have access to this kind of information before," said corporate communications manager of the JBDC, Keneshia Nooks.
"The clinic is set up to help people with the various processes, from financing to consumer advice," she continued, adding that the three-year project will be done in phases.
At the end of the first phase an assessment will be done in order to develop a new strategy, going into the project's second year.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce Anthony Hylton (third
right) cuts the ribbon symbolising the official launch of the mobile
business clinic initiative at the National Commercial Bank Wellness
Centre in Kingston on September 16. Chairman, Jamaica Business
Development Corporation, Silburn Clarke (left); marketing and sales
manager, Fidelity Motors, Leslie Nembhard (second left); chief executive
officer, JBDC, Valerie Veira (second right); and senior general
manager, Retail Banking Division, NCB, Audrey Tugwell-Henry share in the
moment. Partly hidden is Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry,
Investment and Commerce Sharon Ffolkes Abrahams.-Contributed