Mobile Business Clinic responds to St Thomas' needs
The Mobile Business Clinic Initiative (MBCI) was launched in September 2014 and is now on its final phase of year one, with three remaining clinics being staged in St Thomas,
St Catherine, and Kingston and
St Andrew. The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) team, which mainly constitutes business development officers, heads to the Rudolph Elder Park in Morant Bay, St Thomas, on Thursday, January 28, where the day's programme will be formatted to address the primary needs of the parish.
The St Thomas visit is guided by the recently released National Needs Assessment Report, an
initiative of the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, led by JBDC. It shows that businesses in
St Thomas are in significant need of technical assistance in key areas of business development.
The findings highlighted financial management, marketing, information technology, general management, personal management and international trade as non-financial development areas in which businesses have the greatest demand for technical support. The research also shows that businesses' demand for technical assistance varies by parish in all of the areas, as well as market readiness. More than 70 per cent of respondents surveyed islandwide required technical assistance in financial management, information technology and marketing, demonstrating the need for heightened focus in those particular areas.
The research initiative sought to determine non-financial business development needs, as perceived by Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), and determine the major
obstacles to business growth and sustainability. It also explores the use and integration of information and communications technology (ICT), research and development, marketing, efficiency, innovation and
creativity, pricing strategies and financial management methods. A total of 1499 MSMEs islandwide participated in the survey.
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 per cent of businesses surveyed required assistance in these areas. Addressing this may require the injection of more resources into business development organisations in order to meet unmet demands of entrepreneurs," she explained.
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'. It is a focus consistent with the long-term vision of the MIIC and its keys agencies.