Industry Ministry Places More Emphasis on MSME Sector

Photo: Barbara Ellington Chief Technical Director in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries, Stephen Wedderburn (left), at the ‘Made in Manchester’ Expo, held at Manchester High School, on March 5. Others (from second left) are Member of Parliament for Manchester North West, Mikhail Phillips and Mayor of Mandeville, Donovan Mitchell.

Story Highlights

  • Two of the key priorities of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries are to make the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) globally competitive, and to push entrepreneurship as a more attractive career choice for women.
  • This was stated by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Stephen Wedderburn, at the second staging of the ‘Made in Manchester’ expo, held at the Manchester High School on March 5.
  • The Chief Technical Director said it is both urgent and necessary that lower interest rates be made available to MSMEs, as they generate $50 billion in revenues annually and are also important drivers of innovation and competition.

Two of the key priorities of the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries are to make the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) globally competitive, and to push entrepreneurship as a more attractive career choice for women.

This was stated by Chief Technical Director in the Ministry, Stephen Wedderburn, at the second staging of the ‘Made in Manchester’ expo, held at the Manchester High School on March 5.

Some 45 women entrepreneurs were in attendance.

Mr. Wedderburn said to advance the sector, the Ministry has embarked on an initiative to strengthen and repurpose some of its key agencies to meet critical funding challenges facing entrepreneurs.

These include the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Self-Start Fund (SSF), and the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA).

He argued that with the high-risk profile associated with the MSME sector, ways must be found to increase its productivity and to mobilise women entrepreneurs.

“One such intervention is the Security Interest in Personal Property (SIPP) regime geared towards providing MSMEs more widespread access to credit,” Mr. Wedderburn said.

He noted that assets such as motor vehicles, livestock, agricultural produce, account receivables, future crops and even unborn livestock can be used to obtain loans for businesses; therefore, the SIPP regime will assist women entrepreneurs who had been previously denied loans.

“Lenders with reliable information can properly identify, evaluate and track moveable assets that have been pledged as collateral to obtain financing,” Mr. Wedderburn emphasised.

The Chief Technical Director said it is both urgent and necessary that lower interest rates be made available to MSMEs, as they generate $50 billion in revenues annually and are also important drivers of innovation and competition.

Mr. Wedderburn pointed out that the majority of Jamaican firms fall within the MSME sector, making it a major contributor to employment and the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“An estimated 90 per cent of all Jamaican business enterprises are defined as MSMEs and some 398,200 Jamaicans, or 40 per cent of the labour force, are classified as Own-Account Workers,” he noted, adding that 98 per cent of registered taxpayers are MSMEs.

Mr. Wedderburn cited an International Labour Organization (ILO) study which indicates that there are some 812 million women living in developing countries with the potential to contribute more fully to their economies.

He said that being cognisant of this fact, the Ministry is not only supportive of women entrepreneurs, but is also developing the critical policies and programmes to support the MSME sector.

Head of 20 Twenty Strategies Consulting company and conceptualiser of the ‘Made in Manchester’ initiative, Annette Salmon, said the objective of the expo is to celebrate and showcase women business owners in the parish and provide a platform which gives them opportunities while building brand awareness.

“Our motto is ‘Buy Local, Build Manchester’, so we also want to increase visibility while encouraging residents of the parish to support these businesswomen by buying their products,” Ms. Salmon said.

For his part, Mayor of Mandeville, Donovan Mitchell, lauded the women for their efforts, and donated one of the shops in the Mandeville Park to be used as a space for the business incubator of ‘Made in Manchester’.

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