Sun | Apr 22, 2018

Growth & Jobs | JBDC gives small businesses a helping hand

Published:Tuesday | March 20, 2018 | 12:00 AMChristopher Serju/Gleaner Writer
Melissa Bennet, manager of financial and support services at the Jamaica Business Development Centre, uses a chart to drive home a point while speaking on the issue of Basic Money Matters during a workshop held on March 9 at 76 Marcus Garvey Drive.
Delrose McPherson (left), a 72-year-old member of the Stony Gut Community Development Committee in St Thomas, studies the case study and workbook on Basic Money Matters, while 62-year-old Millicent Henry, president of the organisation, listens to their lecturer.
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The 20 small-business operators who received $50,000 each in seed grant funding to enhance and streamline their businesses will continue to be monitored by members of the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) following their participation in a recent workshop where they received training in basic money matters at the centre's 76 Marcus Garvey Drive, Kingston, offices.

Drawn from areas within the vicinity of the Blue and John Crow Mountains Heritage Site, the beneficiaries are part of a global strategy to ensure that the areas, which was designated a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Economic, Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), retains the values that led to its designation as such.

 

HERITAGE SITES IMPORTANT

 

"UNESCO's own research shows that tourism activity increases at sites that are inscribed to the World Heritage List, to the extent that the organisation has seen it fit to establish a sustainable programme that state parties like Jamaica have been applying with earnest. The World Heritage properties are important travel destinations. If properly managed, they have great potential for local economic development and long-term sustainability," Dr Janice Lindsay, principal director, culture and creative industries policy division of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, told participants at the workshop.

"We wasted no time in developing a programme that would realise just that - economic development and long-term sustainability for the local communities. To date, we have been able to assist close to 300 individuals with technical support in various areas at the very basic level, how to set up businesses, how to get businesses incorporated, and how to pursue their promotion and marketing strategies," she explained.

Tafari Burns, director of cultural economics and business initiatives, said that beneficiaries included a man who makes drums, persons in the gastronomy industry, a lady who invested in a bed and breakfast, representative of a tour guiding company, and others.

The workshop was just one component of the State's ongoing investment in this initiative, Burns said.

"We've actually contracted the JBDC, and that is the reason why you heard the presenter speaking about completing the financial book, where within a three-month basis, they will follow up with all of the recipients to ensure that their businesses are on track in terms of instituting the knowledge gained here today as well as documenting the information so that they can go in and track and ensure that they are efficiently running their business or are leaning towards stability, if not profitability."

 

Culture ministry wants to see businesses grow

 

Olivia Grange, minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport, says that her ministry partnered with the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) and Jamaica National Foundation to conduct training in basic money matters and financial literacy in order to assist individuals in making their businesses become successful.

"What we're helping you to do now is, when you build, you're going to grow," Grange said.

"You're going to plant the seeds, put a little bit more fertiliser, you water it, but you manage it in a proper way so that you can grow your business for yourself, your family, and your children. You want something to last."

For Vanessa Orie and her family, who operate a combination grocery store/pastry/ fast-food counter in Airy Castle, St Thomas, the intervention could not have come at a better time.

The business, started by her parents last year, provided the funding to see her through the final year of nursing school at the University of the West Indies, and she is now preparing to sit her licencing examination in April.

 

A WELCOME GIFT

 

With her brother graduating from Morant Bay High School last September and a sister still in high school, the family business is the major source of funding, and Vanessa, welcoming the grant, promised it would be put to good use.

"It will help us to expand the business in terms of stocking it some more. Sometimes we have to take money out of the business to send the children to school when things are down, so we will be able to stock it a way that we will be able to save money from it," she said before turning to the impact of the workshop.

"It's gonna help me because, basically, I need to start doing a budget and keep all my receipts, and then I have to do some repricing. So, we are going to be better organised and set up the thing a better way so we can definitely see a profit from this and see much more from the business."

For Pansy Murphy, president of the Port Morant Community Development Committee, whose livelihood revolves around bee farming, the money will be used to expand the range of their operations and extend their product line well beyond honey to include honey water (much like cran water), honey wine, and honey cupcakes.

For 62-year-old Millicent Henry, president of the Stony Gut Community Development Committee, who attended the workshop with her 77-year-old colleague Delrose McPherson, the plan is to expand their wine operation using seasonal agricultural products such as wine, pineapple, and Ribena to form a sustainable operation.

christopher.serju@gleanerjm.com