JBDC kick-starts Mobile Business Clinic Initiative in Hanover
The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) kick-started its three-year Mobile Business Clinic initiative for the parish of Hanover with its first two-day event at the Lucea Anglican Church hall last week Tuesday and Wednesday.
According to Corporate Communications Manager at the JBDC, Kenisha Nooks, the initiative was developed by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce to facilitate the decentralisation of business development services provided to micro, small and medium sized-businesses MSMEs across the island.
She said Hanover was selected as one of the first parishes for urgent attention after a needs assessment conducted by her organisation revealed that 41 per cent of the businesses in the parish have had no exposure to entrepreneurship, 91 per cent had no business plans and 62 per cent were not registered to collect general consumption tax.
"The project itself was designed to provide an opportunity for the business communities in the various parishes of Jamaica and to pretty much decentralise the services of these agencies, as well as to offer support to remote communities, because the problem still exists where people are of the view that Kingston is the hub for business, and you can only come to Kingston to register your business. Because the Companies Office of Jamaica, for example, has only one office in Kingston, and that's it," she explained.
"So if people want to register their business, for example, they would have to come all the way to Kingston, and it has been a problem... So we want to support the people. We realise that if they don't come to us, and we want to grow the sector in an effort to meet them, we had to come to the respective communities," Nooks added.
She said the three-year project is now in its pilot phase, which entails a launch in all parish capitals, and a deeper assessment of business needs before proceeding with its second phase. Under phase two, the business clinics will be taken into the deep-rural areas and smaller townships via several retrofitted buses, which will serve as mobile offices.
"So we already did the needs assessment - this is now getting more intimate with the business community. After each parish launch, we will work with them for the rest of the time, then we do an assessment of this phase. Before we go into the second phase, we have to know what worked in Phase One, to fix it customise and then we go on to phase two," Nooks explained.
"A lot businesses such as agro-processors and manufactures are situated outside of Kingston. So we have to make sure that they are at a level because a lot of them are still operating as hustlers. But, if we are going to grow as a nation and build the economy, we have to ensure that our entrepreneurs are not only just thinking about next week, or next meal, but thinking about the next five years," she added.
The Mobile Business Clinics offer a full suite of business services, including those from the Trade Board, Self Start Fund, Bureau of Standards Jamaica, the Fair Trading Commission, Tax Administration Jamaica, Consumer Affairs Commission, Food Safety and Prevention of Infestation Division, Companies Office of Jamaica, and private-sector companies. Specific services include financial consultation, tax advice for MSMEs, business advice, consultation and formalisation, standards and certification, business modelling and networking opportunities.