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Editors' Forum | JBDC set to give MSMEs another push

Published:Sunday | May 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMErica Virtue
In this May 2017 photo, Mayberry executives (from left), Tania Waldron-Gooden and Anika Jengelley check out Rochelle Clark's booth at the JBDC 10th annual small business expo.

More than 500 participants are expected at this week's 11th annual Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) small business expo and conference, which is designed to improve the output of entities in the sector.

The conference will provide guidance to operators of these (micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to help them survive in a business climate that is never static.

"Our expo is designed specific to the needs of our client group, which is the MSMEs," said Valerie Viera, chief executive officer of the JBDC, during a Gleaner Editors' Forum at the company's North Street, Kingston, offices, last Friday.

"Its mission is twofold. One is information because we do have about 45 exhibitors that come from the ecosystems that we understand can nourish the development of the clients, so there is new information, each year, each cycle," added Viera

"Information is critical because so much happens during a year in terms of technology, policy development, new technologies that come on board, and new opportunities that persons might not have identified," argued Viera.

She said that throughout the year, issues affecting the MSMEs have been identified, and the conference agenda has been dissected to reflect the body parts such as the nervous system, brain, heart, and the immune system of the sector.




It has also noted that critical to the making or breaking of business operations is the employment of the right persons for the right positions, and this will also be addressed at the day conference.

"What's different about this activity is that our presenters are not limited to what they read in a book or in research. We are a vibes organisation, so we want people who can articulate effectively to the client group their experience and what is in the book.

"So the communication is critical to us, and when we identify and select partners like these we have at the table, these are people who can relate effectively to the group and communicate because we have people at different levels within the organisation," added Viera as she pointed to other participants in the forum.

Harold Davies, deputy chief executive of the JBDC, told the Gleaner's editors and reporters that one of the primary functions of the expo is to provide networking opportunities for business operators as it serves as a meeting point for the ecosystems related to entrepreneurship.

"The sophistication of the entrepreneurs that we have seen is definitely growing on an annual basis, and this is a success for us.

"They come to us with new issues, new visions of where they want to go, fed by the information, knowledge, and services that they might have had," said Davis.

He argued that access to appropriate financing for the stage and size of business was critically important as in some instances, financing has been provided to MSMEs, but it was the wrong type, which did more harm than good.

"Many times, entrepreneurs access finance that is not appropriate for them, where they are, or the business that they are in. You are accessing a particular loan, and you know that you're in the productive sector and the loan requires you to start repaying next week when you are buying raw materials. That is inappropriate finance," said Davis.

Yello Jamaica is the title sponsor for the expo and conference, which will be staged on Wednesday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.