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China express - Drive on to propel local businesses into Asian market

Published:Monday | August 25, 2014 | 8:00 AM
Professor Rosalea Hamilton

 John Myers, Jr, Gleaner Writer

Efforts are under way for the creation of a significant partnership that is expected to position local businesses to penetrate the highly lucrative Chinese market as well as other global markets.

The University of Technology (UTech) is currently engaged in talks with a major Chinese university to teach Jamaican businesses to penetrate the expansive Chinese market, as well as expose them to Silicon Valley-type venture capitalists to fund the expansion of their businesses so that they are better prepared to meet the additional demand that is expected to come as a result of the partnership. Silicon Valley-type venture capitalists are usually high-tech businesses in economic zones in the United States.

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, a vice-president of the UTech and the Scotiabank chair, entrepreneurship and development, revealed during a Gleaner Editors' Forum held at the newspaper's North Street, Kingston, headquarters on Wednesday, August 18, that negotiations were advanced between the UTech and Sias International University.

"Sias International University in China has an incubator, or what is called an accelerator. They have made links with Silicon Valley investors, and you can, through the relationship that we are going to establish, get access to venture capital and equity financing and an opportunity to sit in China for about 10 weeks in their accelerator to learn how to penetrate global markets, as well as the Chinese market," Hamilton explained.

In emphasising the significance of the initiative and its potential to attract foreign investors and stimulate the development of small businesses, Hamilton pointed out that Sias International University's accelerator programme has enlisted venture capitalists who have invested in multimillion-dollar international companies such as Paypal and others.

"That is very significant because to get into their incubator, they have to want to invest in you. You can't just go into it," she stressed, adding that efforts were currently under way to gain access to the Hong Kong market as well.

A growing initiative

According to the UTech professor of entrepreneurship, "It is a growing initiative and a very important initiative that moves (students) from the classroom into the actual market."

Hamilton said: "We think it is a significant relationship. We hope we will be successful, and if so, it will open an opportunity for Jamaican businesses not only to access global financing, but also practical assistance in penetrating the Chinese and other global markets."

The UTech professor, who is also a trade policy specialist and someone who sees possibilities for the development of a vibrant local fashion/apparel industry, said the local fashion/apparel industry has immense potential to contribute to Jamaica's economy even with the influx of mass-produced cheap imports from places like China and other Asian countries.

"It is not easy to plateau because you come up with new designs (and) you keep moving," she said.

Hamilton continued: "The style is changing, and you don't want to be wearing the same thing all the time. So that has fed the growth of the market, and if every time you go out you want a new outfit, (then) that's the potential growth of that market."