Feature
Manager, Sales and Promotions Division, with a focus on Agribusiness at Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Marlene Porter.
Photo: Contributed

Story Highlights

  • Over the years, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) has been assisting various companies, from different sectors, to gain access to overseas markets for their products.
  • Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has had to pivot, and change the way it assists these businesses.
  • Manager, Sales and Promotions Division, with a focus on Agribusiness at JAMPRO, Marlene Porter, told JIS News that the agency’s role is not only about attracting investments into the country and supporting the investments here in Jamaica.

Over the years, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO) has been assisting various companies, from different sectors, to gain access to overseas markets for their products.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has had to pivot, and change the way it assists these businesses.

Manager, Sales and Promotions Division, with a focus on Agribusiness at JAMPRO, Marlene Porter, told JIS News that the agency’s role is not only about attracting investments into the country and supporting the investments here in Jamaica.

“We also have to help our producers to get their products into markets, to understand the markets and to link them with buyers and bring back market intelligence to them,” Ms. Porter said.

“Even outside of that, they sometimes come upon problems as they seek to export, and so we have to advocate for them on a number of different areas. So, market research, market intelligence, business matchmaking, all of these are things that we do from JAMPRO standpoint to help our exporters,” she added.

Ms. Porter explained that in the past, JAMPRO would take companies to trade shows in countries, such as the United States or Canada.

“We would facilitate them by helping to set up a booth… bring the companies there, find buyers and put [the companies] in touch with them, take them into the market, so that they can see for themselves what is happening on the ground, collect information on their competition, that kind of thing,” she explained.

“We used to bring buyers as well into Jamaica, and then take them into the different companies, so that they can meet with them. The buyers get a chance to see for themselves that these companies have the capability and the capacity to supply them. But with COVID, that doesn’t quite happen,” Ms. Porter added.

She further noted that even when there is not a show happening, JAMPRO creates its own show in the market called a trade mission.

“We take the company in the mission, into the market and set up meetings for them with players on the ground, the buyers, and so we have to engage with influencers in the market. We have to know who they are, everything, and be able to set these meetings with these potential buyers for the products that the companies are going with. With COVID, those traditional channels were not quite there; we didn’t have any real fancy shows, none of these were happening,” Ms. Porter pointed out.

“So, we had to create our own …we had to pivot. We searched thoroughly online [for] virtual platforms that we could use, where we could bring in a show like a trade show, except that it’s all virtual. The buyers are placed, the suppliers are placed before the buyers and they’re able to showcase their products, their catalogue, and still have these meetings on the ground,” she explained.

She added that a particular platform called ECRM has been successful.

“All the companies that have gone on it have been so pleased with the quality of the buyers that they have had and orders we have seen already. Even though it’s such a short period, we have seen the development to the point where a company is now sending out a first shipment,” Ms. Porter said.

“Sometimes the companies are the ones who initiated, they probably have some new products, and they want to understand how they could get out there with this product. And so, we would help them to get a better understanding of that. Even though it’s not a core to what we do, companies ask us for feedback on their packaging and on their labelling. We help them to understand how to negotiate, how to position their product. So as best as possible, we do that,” she added.

Ms. Porter also mentioned the Export Max III Programme, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA).

“We have 50 exporters that we’re working with, to help them to get their products into market,” Ms. Porter noted.

In terms of sector breakdown, 40 per cent are in the food processing industry, 29 per cent in non-food manufacturing, 10 per cent in the service sector and for the

first time, there are creative industry companies in the programme, which account for 13 per cent of the number of enrolled companies.

“So, we have to build the capacity of these companies and we have to get into the market as well. A lot is happening behind the scenes in terms of some of the work that we do with these exporters,” the Agri Business Manager said.

Meanwhile, Ms. Porter informed that JAMPRO has representatives in markets, such as the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

“So, sometimes when we get requests from our clients, we actually send it into the regional offices, and ask them to go and find out more information about a particular product or [the] client may ask for support, and then in turn identify buyers in that market, and send them through to us and we link them with suppliers here,” she explained.

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