JIS News

Established as one of the premier support organisations for businesses in Jamaica, the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) provides advice, consultancy and training to enable businesses to survive and prosper in the local and global marketplace.
More than 4,000 businesses have benefited from the work of the JBDC, which was established five years ago.
Speaking with JIS News, Chief Executive Officer at the JBDC, Valerie Veira, says that the organisation has, over the years, successfully guided business that are starting up and serves as a consultant to established businesses.
“JBDC is a uniquely structured organization consisting of a set of designers, who help with product development; engineers who assist with process development and our business officers, who deal with the bookkeeping and structuring of the business,” Ms. Veira says.
The CEO notes that the centre provides “a full packaged service” stemming from “concept to market.”
“We provide a kind of filtering for your ideas to identify those that are commercially viable and assist clients to make selections based on market trends,” she adds, noting that the centre assists persons to structure their business plan, which is a necessary tool or “road map” for their business.
Identifying the appropriate sources of funding for the particular project is an area in which the JBDC plays a key guiding role, advising the client on developing the product or service, while taking into account, cost and marketing.
Ms. Veira adds that the JBDC advises the client about identifying possible partners in the market as well as negotiating contracts and recruiting and training persons, who will be involved in the operation of the business.
Through collaboration with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the agency provides loans to innovative and viable micro, small and medium enterprises that require assistance.
Ms. Veira explains that the DBJ has created a revolving loan for disbursement to new or innovative industries by providing seed money and capital for expansion. Businesses involved in the fashion industry, agro-processing and craft, have benefited from loans under this initiative. “JBDC covers the fashion industry in general since it’s always on the lips of Jamaicans,” she adds.
Meanwhile, the agency is capturing the energies and potential of young people, through the Building Youth for National Development Programme (BYoND), which targets youth who are unemployable because they lacked marketable skills and work experience, and provide them with training and entrepreneurial opportunities.Ms. Veira explains that the BYoND programme targets the age cohort of 17 to 40 and entails an internship and grant component.
The internship component, the CEO tells JIS News, is designed to equip persons with technical, specialist and business skills over a three-month period. She notes that a number of host companies, particularly small and micro agencies, have partnered with the JBDC to accommodate the interns.
Ms. Veira further explains that if the host company decides to keep the intern for a year or more, at the end of the internship period, a grant is provided to assist the company in providing resources in order to facilitate the intern. The CEO informs JIS News that 128 persons have benefited from the internship programme to date.
The grant component, she elaborates, caters to “those who have a stomach for business,” and the centre guides them in negotiating contracts, funding and most importantly “to think business.” She notes that 157 businesses have been started from grants provided by the JBDC.
She explains that young entrepreneurs can apply for a business start-up grant under this component and those who have identified a product/service, can receive business training in order to prepare a business plan. Those with viable businesses are given grants of up to $30,000 in equipment and material for business start-up.
This aspect of the programme is flexible, Ms. Viera points out, as it allows persons to form groups to be able to apply for the grant as a unit, which gives them the opportunity to apply for larger sums.
Interestingly, there is a music component to the BYoND programme, which provides training and exposure to young musicians, vocalists, instrumentalists, studio engineers and songwriters. Two auditions for vocalists, songwriters and instrumentalists were held in 2003 and those who were successful, have been placed in the music programme, where they have taken courses to develop their talents.
Phase two of the programme, which involves training in business development, will target professional musicians, who are entering the music industry. These musicians will benefit from the grant of $30,000 in equipment and material for their businesses.
Turning the spotlight on the JBDC’s retail outlet, ‘Things Jamaican’, Ms. Veira says, it sells a range of produce and delights made by local small business interests and adds that the centre is exploring the confectionary market to find innovative ways of making products, getting new items properly packaged and developing the raw material base to expand the market.
The craft group is yet another huge sector with which the centre works. A range of products is produced including wooden, clay and those that are sewn. “It is how we fashion the products.ensuring that it is done in a way where people can really earn a living,” she points out.
Continuing, she notes that the JBDC focuses primarily on the design-led component, which is the creation of authentic products. She stresses that this industry needs to be explored much more as a means of further marketing Jamaica.
“I am anxious to see a sports component develop in the fashion industry,” the CEO says while suggesting that it would be a grand idea to produce a line of products that represents “our outstanding sportsmen and women.”
There is also the need, she mentions, for Jamaica to produce more tropically designed garments. “I’d love to see when visitors come here, they come with an empty suitcase and with the intention to buy our tropically designed swimwear,” she says.
Turning to the agro-processing group, Ms. Veira notes that this consists of the exotic Jamaican produce including jams, jellies, products made from june plum, tamarind, grater cake and others.
“We are looking at the young people coming out of the training institutions to assist them in seeing these as opportunities to develop even further than we are seeing now,” the CEO informs.
Currently, the JBDC is hosting a series of sensitization sessions to generate awareness of the business opportunities that will arise out of the ICC Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 to be held in Jamaica.
The sessions target producers of gift and craft, fashion and apparel, home accessories, specialty food, persons in the business of providing hospitality and persons who want to become exposed to business opportunities.
The series of workshops examine various issues related to business development including: intellectual property rights (the inappropriate use of marks and logos); licensing and merchandising; packaging; costing; financing and marketing.
“We have applied for a licence and will umbrella some of the MSM (micro, small and medium) enterprises, which wouldn’t qualify to have licences themselves to produce logo items,” she explains.
Since February, 800 persons from various parishes have benefited from the sensitization sessions.