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Jamaica moves up seven places on entrepreneurship index

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2016 | 12:00 AMTameka Gordon

Jamaica has moved up seven places on the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) and is now ranked at 90, earning a score of 27.3 out of a possible 100.

With the 2016 scores, the country falls just below Ecuador with 27.4 and Egypt with a similar score of 27.3 on the annual index, which weighs a country's performance against whether there is a "well-functioning entrepreneurial ecosystem".

The ranking is presented by the Global Entrepreneurship Development Institute (GEDI).

To be entrepreneurial, the GEDI said countries need to provide entrepreneurial ecosystems that support innovative, productive and rapidly growing entrepreneurial ventures.

It said infrastructural needs such as access to technology, specialised advice and support, access to finance, as well as access to business premises and a supportive regulatory framework, must be in sync in order for innovative and high-growth firms to prosper.

To date, Jamaica has made strides in providing several entrepreneurial incubators, backed by both public- and private-sector entities such as Start-Up Jamaica and the Development Bank of Jamaica's IGNITE programme, among others.

However, Alphie Mullings-Aiken, president of Junior Achievement Jamaica, believes more needs to be done to develop entrepreneurs and sustainable businesses.

Speaking about the recent ranking, Mullings-Aiken said while the country has progressed in growing an entrepreneurial ecosystem, "there is still much work to be done and faster integration of resources is needed.

"The index highlights in an objective scientific way what the reality is. We have been having a thrust towards training entrepreneurs, encouraging investment and facilitating the development of entrepreneurs, but there are still many hindrances in the economic and social landscape," she said.

TOP 10

The top 10 countries are the United States, Canada, Australia, Denmark, Sweden, Taiwan, Iceland, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and France, with the United States scoring 91.4 and France 76.8 in the 2016 rankings.

The GEI, which was launched in 2014, is determined annually by weighing data on entrepreneurial attitudes, abilities and aspirations of a country's adult-age population against a country's framework conditions for entrepreneurship.

The framework includes the prevailing social and economic infrastructure, which includes aspects such as broadband connectivity and the transport links to external markets.

Mullings-Aiken said Jamaica has been making significant progress in developing a pipeline of youth interested and equipped with the entrepreneurial mindset. Jamaica has a growing entrepreneurial ecosystem, but there is still much work to be done and faster integration of resources is needed.

Ainsley Lloyd, global operations coordinator at the GEDI, notes that Jamaica scored lowest in the areas of technology level and process innovation. She said Jamaica's primary opportunities for improvement in rankings would be in the area of technology.

"By increasing invest-ment in research and development and increasing the adoption rates of new technology among entrepreneurs, the country can improve the entrepreneurship ecosystem."

Lloyd noted that Jamaica received high scores on several variables in the area of entrepre-neurial attitudes, which included opportunity and skill perception among entrepreneurs.

"Jamaicans see entrepreneurship is a good career choice. This indicates that Jamaica's entrepreneurs are ready to thrive in an entrepreneurship environment that facilitates the development and adoption of new technology," he said.

Mullings-Aiken noted that Jamaicans are increasingly willing to venture into entrepreneurship, but strengthened mechanisms are needed to support transition from sound business plans to sustainable and profitable businesses.

"We need more actors to play greater roles in advancing Jamaica's entrepreneurship ecosystem. This includes the universities, the private sector, the NGO community and the government," she added.

She said Junior Achievement Jamaica has been working and having dialogue with several organisations to solve some of the problems that are hindering entrepreneurial development.

"Junior Achievement

is working with the Ministry of Education and several private-sector partners to boost entrepreneurship education among the youth, starting

as young as age five through

to 24," Mullings-Aiken said.