Sat | Oct 21, 2017

MSMEs hurting from flawed perception

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 12:04 AMChristopher Serju
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, Donovan Stanberry

Getting micro, small and medium-sized (MSMEs) businesses to realise anywhere near their full potential in order to contribute in a sustainable way to national and regional development will require a fundamental shift in the way Jamaicans view these enterprises, noted Donovan Stanberry permanent secretary in the Ministry of Investment, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries.

He said that the perception of small scale entrepreneurship as a second rate profession has been institutionalised and continues to be perpetuated by the local school system.

"If you are bright, then you go to learn to be an engineer or a doctor. If you love to argue and chat, then you do history and literature and GP and become a lawyer, and if you not that bright, then your consolation is business (doing) POB and accounts, etc," he said yesterday at the media launch of the 2017 Caribbean MSME Conference at the Spanish Court Hotel, New Kingston.

 

Perception of status

 

"It came out very clearly that you are not that sophisticated if you earned your living from doing business. You are praised and looked upon as people with status and credibility if you earned from inheritance. And I always wondered where that inheritance came from in the first place because in the final analysis labour is the father of wealth."

In this regard, Jamaica, according to Stanberry, has been moving against the tide of conventional wisdom, a fact brought home during his recent visit to Mexico which provided an opportunity to interact with people from all over Latin America and the Caribbean, who were engaged in looking at issues relating to SMEs.

He pointed out the following as a major take away from that interaction.

"In deed and in fact there is strength and inspiration that can be derived from commonality of experiences," Stanberry stated.

...Collaboration for Caribbean Sustainability

'Collaboration for Caribbean Sustainability' is the theme of the 2017 Caribbean MSME Conference to be hosted by Jamaica at the Hilton Rose Hall Resort & Spa in Montego Bay, St James from July 19-21 and Donovan Stanberry, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Investment, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, is convinced that it can help to jump start the collective thinking that will translate into regional action to ensure that MSMEs deliver on their untapped potential for economic competitiveness and success.

"It's a little late but it's certainly an idea whose time has come.

Countries have demonstrated that it's this sector that has generated for them the kind of growth and employment and prosperity that all mankind aspires to. Governments the world over have begun in recent times to recognise the significant potential of SMEs in terms of job creation, in terms of GDP growth and in terms of rural development," he said at the conference launch at the Spanish Court Hotel in New Kingston yesterday.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com