Sinclair's Ceramics, Peace-is of Bianca, Irie Rock and Kristina Broderick Jewellery were among the nine women-owned businesses from the Commonwealth that benefited from full sponsorship from the Commonwealth Secretariat to participate in the Spring Fair International in the United Kingdom in February.
Alison Sinclair of Sinclair's Ceramics, jewellers Bianca Bartley of Peace-Is of Bianca, Kristina Broderick of Kristina Broderick Jewellery, and Racquell Brown of Irie Rock, a natural line of skincare and spa products, impressively made the final cut from a field that included 60 companies from 12 Commonwealth countries. JAMPRO, the national investment and export promotion agency, with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Jamaica Exporters' Association (JEA), facilitated the applications of the local companies to the Commonwealth Secretariat.
The companies were collectively sponsored to the tune of £34,000 (J$4.5 million) and had the opportunity to market their products to global buyers at one of Europe's largest buyers' fair, which was held at the NEC Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.
Racquell Brown indicated that the event provided her Irie Rock line of products with significant exposure to international buyers, and she was also able to make on-the-spot sales. Brown noted that her company was actively following up on several expressions of interest, with a view to converting them into solid business partnerships. Kristina Broderick expressed similar sentiments, while describing her participation as a useful learning experience.
"The event was a great experience ... . I made great contacts, got good exposure and have some very interested potential customers that I am currently following up with," said Broderick.
Berletta Henlon Forrester, JAMPRO's export promotion manager, stated that the agency was pleased to have facilitated the successful applicants from Jamaica, who took part in the fair under a capacity building pilot project being undertaken by the Commonwealth Secretariat through the Social Transformation Programmes Divi-sion of its Gender Section.
"The fact that Jamaican women business owners secured four of the nine Commonwealth selections is an extremely significant achievement, and highlights the seriousness of Jamaican entrepreneurs," said Henlon Forrester.
Based on the selection criteria developed by the Commonwealth Secretariat, the products of the Jamaican applicants scored highly in critical areas such as international appeal and quality, functionality, value for money, scalability and the potential to employ labour intensive processes in the manufacturing sector.
"Supporting Commonwealth female entrepreneurs displays the new strategic vision of the secreta-riat to build capacity beyond workshops; whereby we can monitor the impact of women entrepreneurs for the long-term," stated Dr Sylvia Anie, director of Social Transformation Programmes Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat. 'The event was a great experience ... . I made great contacts, got good exposure and have some very interested potential customers that I am currently following up with."