KINGSTON — Head of the Economics and Social Development Section, Delegation of the European Union (EU) to Jamaica, Helen Jenkinson says the entity is to undertake an evaluation of the recently concluded EU-funded Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) in Jamaica.
The PSDP was a €26.17 million five-year joint initiative, established in 2004 between the Government of Jamaica and the EU, which operated out of the offices of the government’s investment promotion arm, Jamaica Promotions Limited (JAMPRO), formerly Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI).
The initiative was created to address specific challenges facing micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs) and their support organisations. JAMPRO/JTI, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, was the PSDP’s lead implementer.
Speaking at the Fourth CARIFORUM Regional Meeting of Business Support Organisations at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, New Kingston, recently, Ms. Jenkinson, described the PSDP as a “very big programme,” which ended just over a year ago.
She explained that the evaluation is to determine what has been left of the programme and what is sustainable. “If there are interesting conclusions, and we can, we will certainly share them so others can learn,” she added.
Ms. Jenkinson, who is also the EU representative to Belize, the Bahamas, Turks and Caicos, and the Cayman Islands, highlighted several aspects of the programme, including the chain of export centres and business information points, and clusters which were established.
“The business information points were set up across the island to assist very small operators who did not necessarily know how to do a business plan or needed access to computers,” she said.
Regarding the clusters, Ms. Jenkinson said the EU funded 10 different sets, incorporating people or businesses involved in certain subject areas or products, citing the egg and wellness clusters as examples.
“This seemed to be quite a good idea, and quite successful, and I think representatives from that programme did inform the Caribbean Export Development Agency of this. We thought this was also a good model that could possibly be implemented in other countries across the region,” she said.
On another matter, Ms. Jenkinson suggested that regional states give consideration to expanding on their offerings in the area of culture, which has huge potential as an income earner.
“I have seen in Jamaica, and I’m sure it’s the same across the region, (that) there is a huge demand in Europe for cultural products, and this region is very rich in it. There is, at the moment, a call for proposals for working in the area of culture,” she informed.
Ms. Jenkinson said while the possibility for EU funding assistance to this end exists, lamented that, “regrettably, we don’t get enough good proposals."
She is inviting interested parties to peruse the EU website or make contact with the EU’s office closest to them in the region.
By DOUGLAS McINTOSH, JIS Reporter