JAMAICA IS desperately in need of development. Jamaica needs the development to create wealth, jobs, social stability and upward mobility. It is a staple of labour economics that jobs are created by small business. We make requests, without the prerequisite enabling environment, for 40,000 new jobs to be created by employers, each adding one employee. We preach about the agro parks adding jobs. This follows JEEP - Jamaica Emergency Employment Programme. The emergency continues.
It is, however, noteworthy that on December 21, 2012, Jamaica actually participated on a United Nations resolution, 'Entrepreneurship for Development'. By a vote of 141 in favour, 31 against and 11 abstentions, the plenary of the UN General Assembly adopted an Israeli-sponsored resolution on Entrepreneurship for Development in the developing world. This was a first for the UN, on the subject as a means of tackling the challenge of poverty. Jamaica was a co-sponsor, yet my recollection is that very little has been said about this here, at home.
The resolution is designed to advance entrepreneurship as a catalyst for development and calls for the creation of conditions favourable to entrepreneurship, education and removing bureaucratic impediments to the establishment of business. Surely, this admirable goal is not beyond us. Surely, it does not find full expression in the creation of one telephone line in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce.
imagination versus logic
Let me quote extensively from Ambassador Prosor of Israel to the UN Economic and Financial Committee on December 7, 2012.
"Albert Einstein once wrote that 'logic may get you from A to Z, but imagination will get you everywhere'.
Entrepreneurs are dreamers - risk-takers who dare to change the world. They are people like the young woman in Peru who built a recycling plant to turn the piles of waste in Lima's poorest neighbourhoods into a source of income. They are the two brothers from India who transformed a small online bookstore into a billion dollar enterprise. They are the recent college graduate in Ethiopia who turned a small sandal workshop on her grandmother's property into a multimillion-dollar footwear company.
These are the people who offer developing communities the best hope for breaking the cycle of poverty. No one is in a better position to solve a country's problems than its entrepreneurs.
Today, this committee is sending a clear and simple message: entrepreneurship is a primary pathway to sustainable economic growth for all.
Entrepreneurship has a ripple effect. By unlocking minds, we can inspire change. Business leaders build teams and instil confidence in their peers. They empower others to pursue their dreams.
Israel's experience shows that humans are a country's greatest natural resource. In just six decades, Israel has transitioned from a developing nation to a start-up nation. We have moved from cultivating apples to designing Apple Computers, from harvesting oranges to building Orange mobile phones. We have more start-ups per capita than any nation on the planet. Tel Aviv was even recently named the second most entrepreneurship-friendly city in the world.
These achievements are no accident. They are the result of close collaboration between business and government - and a culture that rewards risk-taking, embraces entrepreneurship, and encourages imagination.
Israel's story shows that if you want stability, empower your people. If you want prosperity, invest in your citizens. And if you want sustainability, engage every member of society - especially women and youth."
There are organisations currently in existence in our country that seem all to be plotting their separate paths. Caribbean BETA. They have a start-up bootcamp funded by the Canadian International Development Agency, Info Development and JAMPRO. The next bootcamp is scheduled for November 13, 2013. This will form a part of the Caribbean Tech Entrepreneurship Conference. Who is it for? Aspiring and current Tech Entrepreneurs who want to generate and showcase big tech-driven ideas and connections with like minds and inventors. Businesses and organisations who want to understand trends and learn about opportunities. More information can be had at the Caribbeanbeta.com.
There is the Technology Innovation Centre at University of Technology (UTech) launched in 2002. They will provide hosting of appropriate and suitable enterprise for a three-year period. This gives life to the concept of the incubator.
The Young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica, founded under the auspices of the Jamaica Employers Foundation in 2005, is out there. They acquired membership of the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica in May 28, 2013.
The glaring absence of national coordination is striking. All these activities serve a worthwhile purpose, but the young person with an idea, where do they begin to secure guidance not to speak of funding? I am frequently contacted by those with ideas worthy of scrutiny. Is there a facility available through our main indigenous universities, University of the West Indies, UTech and Northern Caribbean University that would help? Angels and venture capital providers are few and far between. Government is missing from the equation.
Let us examine the possibilities in Israel. The Young Bureau International Organisation offers support to the entrepreneur. The support is offered based on what they actually need as opposed to a fixed set of services. There may be mentorship, training and leads for funding. In Jamaica, the young entrepreneur is on his or her own. The winners come from this formula of supporting their needs. Take www.waze.com. The clever app recently snapped up by Google for nearly US$1 billion provides drivers with real time information ingeniously provided by other drivers smart phones. The possibilities are only limited by imagination. Oh for the strong support structure.
Ronald Mason is US immigration attorney/mediator/talk-show host. Send feedback to email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org