JIS News

Over 500 micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), across the island, have benefited from a suite of technical services provided under the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) over the past five years.
These enterprises span a number of sectors, including agro-business, the creative industries, tourism, and the services sectors.
A Euro 26.17 million, five-year joint initiative, established in 2004 between the Government of Jamaica and the European Union (EU), the PSDP operates out of the offices of the government’s investment promotion arm, Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), Trafalgar Road in Kingston.
It was created to address specific challenges facing MSMEs and their support organizations. JTI, an agency of the Ministry of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, is the PSDP’s lead implementer.
Programme Manager, Wynette Anderson, told JIS News that the technical services are specifically aimed at enhancing the business environment in which MSMEs operates.
“The sector that the programme serves has its own challenges. Small businesses will tell you, it is a challenging environment within which to operate. Small businesses, themselves, have their own challenges of record keeping, organizational structure and the usual one – being unable to access financing from the formal sector,” Ms. Anderson notes.
She explains that, in strengthening support organizations and institutions, which results in the enhancement of enterprise competitiveness, stakeholder beneficiaries, being entrepreneurs, and their entities are empowered enabling them access financing.
“Those (support organizations) were assisted in being able to bring training to firms within the sector. So that, you would have been building management capabilities at the local level, being able to assist firms in becoming more efficient, (and) in generating greater employment,” she outlines.
This thrust has been executed by the PSDP via five service areas/units: the Corporate Finance Broker Unit; Enterprise Rating and Upgrading; Export Centres and Business Information Points (EC/BIPS); the Cluster Sector Initiative; and the Target Growth Competitiveness Committee.
These were enhanced by a suite support component programme comprising: Private Sector Capacity Building; Consortia Business Development Services; Mutual Guarantee Company; Back Office Operations; Market Penetration; and Cost Sharing Business Development Services.
Outlining some of their functions, Ms. Anderson said the Target Growth Competitiveness Committee lobbies stakeholders’ input for a more enabling business environment, while Enterprise Rating and Upgrading is a key service aimed at positioning sectors to be globally competitive.
She says that the Corporate Finance Broker Unit is mandated to pursue measures that will improve access to financing by MSMEs, where challenges, in this regard, arise. She explains that it is a business development advisory service, which facilitates business ideas, of established or potential entrepreneurs, being taken from the drawing board to implementation.
“It is staffed by a very experienced team of consultants, who will hand-hold you through the development of a business plan, and actually package that idea for financing. The consultant will also, if needs be, attend a loan interview at the bank with the client, assist them with essentials like getting their records in good shape, in order to enhance their documentation for financing,” Ms. Anderson adds.
She said the unit hosts finance-oriented workshops dealing with key areas, such as business taxation and financing options; business plan development; and financial management, which also incorporates business succession planning.
This unit has assisted just under 500 MSMEs in getting their operations started.
The Export Centres and Business Information Points (EC/BIPS) are offices which provide MSMEs with access to standardized and value-added business information, that will empower entrepreneurs and their entities and enable them to increase their performance and profitability.
Ms. Anderson says that the PSDP has partnered with the Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA), and the Companies Office of Jamaica to establish these outlets.
She points out that Jamaica Trade and Invest, and sister agency, Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), are integrally involved in this component, which is being rolled out in a “satellite” format islandwide, in conjunction with the chambers of commerce, and other agencies such as the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA).
In addition to the EC/BIP at JTI’s head office, satellites have been established in St. James, Hanover, St. Mary, St. Elizabeth. The latest, in Portland, opened earlier this month.
Ms. Anderson informs that the PSDP also provides assistance to activities initiated by Community-Based Organizations (CBOs) engaged in micro-type businesses. Collaboration among the individuals facilitates these entities accessing small grants, which assist in mobilizing the projects, creating employment and other benefits.
The cluster concept, which is fairly new, aims at stimulating new and innovative ways of doing business by encouraging partnerships and collaboration among stakeholders involved in specific activities or “value chains” in which common interests are shared.
This initiative, implementation of which the PSDP has pursued over the last 18 months, has seen technical and funding support being streamlined towards groups of businesses committed to engaging targeted areas and maximizing on common opportunities.
“For example, I may have a business that manufactures jams and jellies, so I do the manufacturing. There may be somebody else who does the packaging, somebody else who may provide the warehousing. Each of us, on our own, would not be able to do as well as when we have all come together,” she explains.
Additionally, she says the cluster method has been providing fantastic opportunities for stakeholders within value chains, by enabling them to access markets which may not be possible individually.
Entities also benefit from “cross cluster synergies”, which encourage and facilitate the sharing of resources deemed to be of common interest among the stakeholders, or which may fall outside of specific core focus area but which can yield significant rewards, if utilised in other undertakings.
Currently, Ms. Anderson says, there are about 10 clusters established islandwide, which are at varying stages of development. Five of these are being spearheaded by JTI, and the remainder, by JBDC.
They are in: the egg industry; tourism; aquaculture; small ruminants; authentic Jamaican gift and craft; the visual and performing arts; Jamaican fashion and apparel; music industry; wellness; and the Negril and western Jamaica micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) cluster.
The egg industry cluster aims to increase collaboration among stakeholders, including egg farmers and feed manufacturers, to provide the highest quality and most competitively priced products. The tourism cluster focuses on maximizing activities incorporating accommodations, attractions and tours, fruit and vegetable producers and the furniture industry.
Activities in the aquaculture cluster focus on the development and expansion of the industry, and entails stakeholders and entities incorporating and utilizing technology, along with marketing strategies and techniques associated with the sector, to maximize output.
The small ruminant cluster seeks to heighten awareness of this growing industry, by building capacity and enhancing collaboration and integration among stakeholders in efforts to develop sheep and goat rearing.
The authentic Jamaican gift and craft cluster focuses on product and enterprise development, as well as networking among interests in order to establish the sector’s presence in domestic and international markets, for authentic indigenous products.
Implementation of a unified strategy to facilitate Jamaica’s emergence as a global hub for the creative industries is the core goal of the visual and performing arts cluster, while the music industry of Jamaica cluster seeks to harmonize the main interests in that sector, thereby maximizing on outputs..
The Jamaican fashion and apparel cluster, through the adoption of best practices in marketing, information technology, and institutional strengthening, seeks to make locally produced clothing, globally competitive.
Establishing Jamaica as the premier source of natural, herbal, organic, health and wellness products and services in the Caribbean, is the ultimate goal of the wellness cluster.
The Negril and western Jamaica micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMES) cluster, is intended to position Negril’s renowned West End area as a cultural hub and destination for quality products and services.
The Target Growth Competitiveness Committee, established as an empowerment mechanism for the private sector, enables the entrepreneurial environment.
The Committee focuses on accelerating private sector growth by: facilitating collaboration among the government, trade unions, and private sector, on competitiveness issues; conducting research on competitiveness related issues; and lobbying for shifts in government policies to address gaps identified in the MSME sector.
“They are actually working on policy initiatives to reduce red tape when you go in to conduct business. So, you don’t have to move around from the National Housing Trust to the National Insurance Scheme, you can actually get everything done at one point,” Ms. Anderson says.
Ms. Anderson notes that, in addition to the JEA, links have established with the Jamaica Manufacturers Association (JMA), Private Sector Organization of Jamaica (PSOJ), and Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), among others. The PSDP has provided assistance to strengthen their capabilities to assist MSME stakeholders.
Some 32 collaborative agreements have been established with financial institutions, inclusive of banks, credit unions, and other small business financiers, as well as the Export/Import (EXIM) Bank, and Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ). These institutions are the ones who the Corporate Finance Broker Unit works hand in hand with, to try to broker financing for firms in the (MSME) sector.
“We have strengthened the support institutions, we move businesses from one level to the other. One key objective now is to ensure that companies are export ready and e-ready. Thus, the Enterprise Rating and Upgrading Unit runs a diagnostics, so that you know where you are (and it) will give you an upgrading plan and assist you in getting to the other level,” she states.
Ms. Anderson highlighted the importance of entities being formally registered in order to access assistance from the PSDP.
“One of the key things is that a firm coming into this programme needs to have been formally registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica, so that you are not (functioning as) an informal business. That’s a good thing, because it lends itself to continuity and makes you better positioned to be able to conduct business,” she explains.
Having run its course, Ms. Anderson says, the PSDP will conclude in December this year as the funding will have been “totally used up”.
However, she says that the programme of technical assistance services, being implemented through JTI, JBDC, JEA, and other private sector partners, will be sustained and maintained as part of the normal course of business offerings through these institutions.
She contends that individuals now recognize the need to equip themselves and their businesses, to take advantage of opportunities arising under the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA), and Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME).
Describing her tenure as “satisfying”, Ms. Anderson shares that, “I have found a lot of satisfaction in just seeing clients come in with an idea and actually move forward in leaps and bounds.”
“I have seen clients who we have had to ‘hand-hold’ through their first loan, repay it and come back for more. It is good when they start. It is generating employment,” she remarks.
Additional information on the PSDP can be sourced on the programme’s website at: www.psdpjamaica.com, or by calling 978-3337.

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