Sat | Sep 18, 2021

Growth & Jobs | Entrepreneur offered much-needed service during lockdown

Published:Tuesday | June 15, 2021 | 12:07 AM
Curtis Davis displays the sign for his store in west Kingston.
Curtis Davis displays the sign for his store in west Kingston.

In the early days of the pandemic when most businesses were forced to close their doors, entrepreneur Curtis Davis remained open. The reason he was able to do this was because his tech store in west Kingston offered a much-needed service to the community.

Davis operates New Era Technology Services, a technology store that offers graphic design, printing, cell phone and laptop repairs as well as an Internet café at Shop 5, 29 Spanish Town Road in downtown Kingston. His community in west Kingston was not spared the devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many micro small and medium-sized businesses were affected. Although he too has been forced to make adjustments, he is grateful that his business was able to remain open because of the services he offers.

“Persons in the community have always found our services to be very convenient, especially now with the pandemic affecting us. During the early days of the pandemic, we were one of the few businesses that was able to stay open,” he recalled.

“Students needed to get their assignments printed because they came through WhatsApp. With most persons working from home, the teachers sent the assignments to the parents via the messaging platform. Most of the parents didn’t have a printer or paper, so we were open during the period to assist them,” he added.

The St George’s Old Boy started New Era Technology when he was 19 years old after recognising that there was a need in the community for an Internet café where the employees were tech-savvy and also offered a wide range of solutions.

“I grew up in the community, and I realised that there was a need for this particular type of service. At the time, you might have had one or two persons with Internet access and they provided a service, but it wasn’t full-fledged,” he related. “People couldn’t come in and print a document from their phone or email, as well as get stationery, computer parts, repair their devices, or even get answers to their general queries about technology.”

“We recognised the demand and realised we could create a niche, and this is what we did,” he added

New Era Technology is currently a mainstay for the residents of Tivoli Gardens and other parts of downtown Kingston, who rely on it to browse the Internet for assignments, print documents and repair devices. Owing to the demand, Davis now employs three full-time employees, with other persons coming in on contractual arrangements as needed.

“Owing to the pandemic we had to make adjustments to our staff complement to remain viable. We hope things continue to improve so we can return to our usual staff numbers, as there is a demand for the services we offer in the community,” he explained.

Davis has also had to adapt to his ever-changing environment. The lockdown and other disruptions that have occurred in his community have forced him to continue to find ways to remain relevant, and sees his businesses offering even more services in the near future.

“Based on what is happening around us, we will be transitioning into more graphic designing services. Printing is our core business, although we are a computer store. Based on the changes in technology, and more Jamaicans purchasing devices online, we’re seeing less demand for that type of service, so we’re adapting to the change in the market,” he stated.

Although being in business for the past 12 years, access to capital can sometimes be a challenge. It is in those moments that he relies on the assistance of JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL).

“I have been a JNSBL client for the past eight years,” he revealed. “During that time, my credit relations officer and I have developed a wonderful relationship. She regularly calls to check up on me to ensure that I am doing well, my operations are going well, and my family is OK. My first loan was a BizGrow loan product, which I used to purchase much-needed equipment. Since then, I have benefited from other loans which has allowed my business to remain viable.”

Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL, said that with many businesses being forced to close because of the pandemic, Davis’ ability to remain open and provide an important service showed his strong business acumen.

“Mr Davis has served his community well and we are pleased to have provided him with much-needed support over the years. He was able to serve his community during the lockdown, when many of us were uncertain of what would happen, and he continues to meet the needs of his clients. We are confident that he will continue to offer quality service to the residents of west Kingston,” she affirmed.

Davis’s dream is to assist in the growth and development of his community.

“My hope is to employ more persons from the community. The hope is to see more of them become more tech-savvy, as this would benefit the community greatly and allow us to grow even more,” he affirmed.