Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of National Security, Senator the Hon. Matthew Samuda, says that more than 2,000 entrepreneurs are benefiting under the pilot phase of the E-Commerce National Delivery System (ENDS).
The programme was first rolled out on March 26 in Portmore, St Catherine, and expanded to Montego Bay, St. James, and Kingston and St. Andrew on April 2.
The web-based ENDS system enables quick-service industry and delivery stakeholders registered on the platform to operate during the coronavirus (COVID-19) curfew hours until midnight, by facilitating online delivery orders only.
Speaking with journalists on Monday (April 5) following a meeting with entrepreneurs in Montego Bay who have registered with ENDS, Mr. Samuda said the programme, which is still in the “test phase”, has been ensuring business continuity, noting that the success, so far, has been encouraging.
“We believe this (ENDS) is important. This is in line with what the Prime Minister has articulated time and time again… to balance lives and livelihoods as a Government, and to ensure that there is business continuity and that the recovery period after COVID-19 is no longer than it needs to be,” he said.
Mr. Samuda informed that some 500 persons in Montego Bay, including restaurateurs and pan chicken vendors, have so far registered for activities under ENDS and have expressed optimism about the initiative.
“Some of the pan chicken vendors who have registered with ENDS have been doing an excellent job and have been supplying orders right throughout the St. James space. They have had hundreds of orders since… and we are very happy that they have been able to facilitate and continue business. It means a lot to them, it means a lot to their families and it means a lot to us,” he noted.
Mr. Samuda describes ENDS as a “silver lining” that can revolutionise the service delivery sector.
He noted that informal operators are now regularising their operations “and are participating in the economy in a structured functional manner” through ENDS.
“Several hundreds of the bike operators who were participating did not have proper licensing before, so we are very happy that they are now regularised. Our intention is to make sure that we develop what we call a ‘cultural fulfilment’ so you get people to embrace the Internet, get our small and micro businesses to embrace the banks, and this, we believe, is what ENDS stands to continue for a very long time,” he said.
The Senator said that the Ministry is now working to iron out the kinks identified during the pilot phase of the programme, with plans to expand islandwide in short order.
He further informed that a full public education campaign to address any “misinformation and misunderstanding” about ENDS is in the pipeline.
“We have a lot of work to get it right, which is why it is a pilot, but we are working around the clock to bring the pilot islandwide and then to allow the Prime Minister to officially launch the project. It is at the test stage but it will be launching soon,” Senator Samuda pointed out.
He is reminding the public that ENDS does not process any transactions or set delivery prices, and is advising persons who order from ENDS participants to choose a business that best fits their budget.