In an effort to improve the island’s Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprise (MSME) sector, the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) has partnered with two entities to assist them with implementing standards and/or quality systems within their organisations.
To this end, two Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) were signed on January 17, between the BSJ and the Jamaica Manufacturers’ Association (JMA); and the BSJ and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) at the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, in Kingston.
The initiative falls under the BSJ partnership programme, which was conceptualised in 2010 and is designed to enhance the competitiveness of MSMEs in using standards.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Portfolio Minister, Hon. Anthony Hylton, said the undertaking signals a demonstration of the commitment of all the parties to improving Jamaica’s ability to trade, through the implementation of standards and quality systems.
He said the BSJ will invest its resources in offering technical assistance to MSMEs to train them to implement standards/quality within their organisations.
"Quality management system has become a buzz terminology in the business environment as the value of systems and procedures is recognised. The success of any quality system requires the total commitment of management and the entire organisation," he emphasised.
The Minister said it has long been established that MSMEs have been major contributors to economic growth in any developing country.
"As Jamaica faces serious challenges in our trade deficit with our international partners, we must strengthen the ability of these MSMEs to engage in international trade. It is therefore fundamental that there is a greater level of partnership between private and public sector entities and increased collaboration within public sector entities," Mr. Hylton argued.
Meanwhile, Executive Director, BSJ, Yvonne Hall, said creating a level of awareness regarding the importance of standards is critical in building the island's business sector.
“We are mindful of the various challenges faced by the business sector and especially the MSMEs. We have committed to embarking on a more collaborative approach to overcoming these many challenges,” she added.
For his part, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, JBDC, Harold Davis, said the knowledge and application of international quality standards for MSMEs cannot be overemphasised and is paramount to the success of the sector.
"Ultimately, we hope that this MoU and the work that is to ensue from (it) will improve the quality of the offerings from the sector, facilitating increased trade, both locally and internationally, and (will) lead towards a sustained, competitive and growing MSME sector," he said.
In his remarks, President of the JMA, Brian Pengelley, said both parties have ensured that the two-year agreement is practical and will deliver results.
"The JMA is in the process of identifying trainers to be trained from within the industry along with staff members from the JMA, who will deliver training to over 50 manufacturers," he said.
The BSJ is a statutory body established by the Standards Act of 1968 to promote and encourage standardization in relation to commodities, processes and practices. However, over the years, its role has been expanded to include the provision of services in relation to conformity assessment (certification, inspection and testing, and calibration) and metrology.
Its main activities include: facilitating the development of standards and other requirements to which particular commodities, services, practices and processes must comply; monitoring for compliance; conducting tests and calibrating instruments; certifying products and management systems; providing industrial training; and promoting research and education in standardization.