Tue | Oct 20, 2020

SBAJ president urges business owners to embrace tech

Published:Saturday | October 17, 2020 | 12:16 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Staff Reporter

Michael Leckie, SBAJ president
Michael Leckie, SBAJ president

Newly elected president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), Michael Leckie, said that a number of small businesses are currently struggling to survive, but he feels a willingness to embrace digital technology could help them in the days ahead, as COVID-19 continues to create financial woes.

“COVID has changed the landscape, meaning nobody is coming off the road and into our businesses because brick and mortar is out,” said Leckie.

“What we have to do now is to sensitise our membership, have them now change their mindset and decide to do mostly online and digital commerce and that is where I want to take them,” he told The Gleaner.

The SBAJ currently has more than 100 paid-up members, and more than 300 businesses in their database. More that 60 per cent of these businesses are brick and mortar.

He said the business owners are embracing the idea that there is a need for them to be doing more online.

“We now have to bring the customer online, gauge them differently and package all that we are doing differently,” he said.

The new SBAJ boss said that the association hopes to increase its membership in the coming weeks by revamping the parish chapters. They are also hoping to attract more young business owners.

“I am going to establish a virtual business district at the association, so that we can accommodate those who don’t have the start-up capital, but really have the mindset to start something brand new so we can push forward,” he said.

The SBAJ is a private non-profit business organisation that represents the small and micro business sector. The association represents businesses employing one to 50 employees and have an income turnover not exceeding US$5 million per annum.

Leckie, who is the managing director of CAMCO and Associates Company, hopes the Government will partner with the SBAJ to keep businesses afloat.

“They now have to think about more capital outlay to bring their businesses up to par where they have to now deal with the protocol of putting up sanitisation station, refitting their whole shop front in order to make it possible for customers to come in and go out with ease,” he said.

He noted that small businesses are also straddled with the “same amount of expense, the loans that are there and the fix costs that are there, so they now want a stimulus in order to survive”.