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Small Business Expo to focus on youth, access to financing

Published:Tuesday | May 10, 2016 | 12:00 AMJason Cross

The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), organiser of the annual Small Business Expo, is promising to deliver a packed day of workshops and seminars that will place keen focus on areas such as youth entrepreneurship and how to access proper financing for your business, at this year's ninth staging of the event.

The expo takes place on Thursday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

This year's theme is 'Opening the Door to Financing Opportunities'.

Suzette Campbell, the JBDC's corporate communications manager, said during a recent Gleaner Editors' Forum that the expo will provide an opportunity for patrons to be educated by experts from across a number of industries on some very specific and important subject matters.

"Our two areas of focus are access to financing, as well as youth entrepreneurship. Under access to financing, you're going to find workshops being presented on areas such as making your business pitch ready, proposal writing, appropriate financing, packaging and labelling as well. There is also venture capital, creative funding, equity financing and listing on the junior stock exchange," Campbell said.

"These are subject-matter experts that we've selected from various organisations. You (will be) benefiting from a packed day of information (that) ordinarily you would be paying thousands of dollars for to do just one session. We are very excited about our youth entrepreneurship segment which will feature a robotics show, delivered by Kimroy Bailey, from the Kimroy Bailey Foundation," she explained.




The keynote speaker will be 25-year-old Gordon Swaby, founder and CEO of Edufocal Limited, which is a gaming solution created to help children study for examinations like the Grade Six Achievement Test.

This, Campbell said, demonstrates the emphasis being placed on youth.

"We know this segment should appeal very well to our youth audience. Gordon Swaby was actually on the Under 50 list when we celebrated Jamaica 50 in 2012. He was also featured on BBC quite recently for a BBC feature online," Campbell said.

Valerie Veira, CEO at the JBDC, said: "This year we selected the financial aspect of the business [because] it's traditional for people to speak about finance being an issue for the sector. Our approach is going to be substantially different; we talking more about a financial ecosystem. When they talk about finance, everybody talk about they don't have access to loans."

Veira added: "We want to move that conversation in a very serious way to looking at funding under a bigger umbrella. We are going to provide information on the new opportunities for financing, how you prepare to access those new products, and really how you select what is appropriate for your own business. Part of that comes from the fact that the sector is evolving from the traditional, 'man a do a thing and a hustle' and has moved dramatically to include professionals."