Fri | Oct 18, 2019

Growth & Jobs | More persons are opting to start their own business - Johnson

Published:Tuesday | February 12, 2019 | 12:20 AM
Hugh Johnson, president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica.

Becoming a boss is perhaps the most sought after job today and so president of the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) Hugh Johnson is not surprised that many persons are starting their own businesses.

“I think by nature, Jamaicans are entrepreneurs” he said, while noting that it is no longer necessary for individuals to invest in large edifices and make major investments to make this dream a reality.

“Now you can have your single operation running from your living room and it generates billions. With that view in mind, it is possible and with the creativity of our people and the opportunity that exists out there as it relates to the technology revolution, it is possible,” he said.

Becoming an entrepreneur however is not always easy.

“Persons want their independence and wanting to be their own boss, even though that brings a new level of challenge as it relates to everybody wanting to be head cook and bottle washer,” he said.

“There are many challenges in the industry and this is where we believe greater level of investment in business development would enhance,” said Johnson.

But despite the challenges, he finds that Jamaicans generally are risk takers and points to the willingness to continue investing in ponzi schemes as one indication of this. One just needs to be innovative.

“The emphasis should be placed on innovation and really not invention. Because if you notice a lot of the companies that are doing well out there, they don’t go and recreate the wheel, they take what is available to them, they tweek it and innovate on it to get it to work better for them and for the world,” he said.

“Technological revolution affords you to do that with almost any business, except for hard manufacturing which you will need a plant to assemble parts to get a final product,” he said.

Some persons still remain in their nine to five while starting a business on the side and Johnson noted that this has been the case for some members of the Association which has more than 1,000 members on file.

“The disparity between the rich and the poor is getting wider and people are desperately trying to bridge that gap. Government is talking a lot that they are trying to bridge that gap,” he said.

But people do not feel this is happening fast enough.

“People feel disenchanted, people feel abused, people feel that they are not getting their money’s worth for their effort, so that would spur them into wanting to be their own boss, that they can generate their own resources to take care of themselves,” he said.

The interest in entrepreneurship that is being expressed by especially young people has resulted in several agencies and organisations making investments in entrepreneurial programmes. One such will be launched by the University of the West Indies Open Campus soon under its transitional living programme for children in state care project (TLP-CSC). The aim is to provide training and grants to former wards or current wards of the state that are desirous of starting their own businesses.

“Some of them, even though they are employed, they still want to do something on the side and become their own entrepreneur,” said field assistant at the TLP-CSC, Kathi-Ann Thomas.

“Not that they are shying away from their regular nine to five or whatever their work is, but we want to show them that entrepreneurship is a valid way of employment, nothing is wrong with being your own boss, it’s the new 21st century job and it’s another way of fostering self and economic independence,” she said.