• Feature
    Chairman of the Cross Keys Development Area Committee, Smeadley Reid (left), displays a bag of Cross Keys DAC Plantain Curls, at a recent Social Development Commission (SDC) Business Fair. With Mr. Reid (from second left) are Hudlyn Pitter and Neville Swaby .
    Photo: Contributed

    Story Highlights

    • The Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP) of the Social Development Commission (SDC) is seeking to bring together locally owned and private enterprises in partnerships that will result in community development and economic growth.
    • One example of this is the linkage made through the Cross Keys Development Area Committee (DAC) Plantain Curls venture, in Manchester.
    • The Cross Keys DAC is a group of stakeholders and representatives from various community development committees (CDCs) in the area, which shares information on community development issues and works towards finding solutions.

    The Local Economic Development Support Programme (LEDSP) of the Social Development Commission (SDC) is seeking to bring together locally owned and private enterprises in partnerships that will result in community development and economic growth.

    One example of this is the linkage made through the Cross Keys Development Area Committee (DAC) Plantain Curls venture, in Manchester.

    The Cross Keys DAC is a group of stakeholders and representatives from various community development committees (CDCs) in the area, which shares information on community development issues and works towards finding solutions.

    Having difficulty keeping up with their expenses, the DAC devised a solution that would benefit more than just the Committee.

    Chairman of the Cross Keys DAC, Smeadley Reid and his wife had previously started a small business producing plantain chips. However, the decision was made to turn the operation over to the DAC to help offset some of the Committee’s monthly maintenance costs, such as electricity bills.

    Mr. Reid tells JIS News that the venture became more successful under the new management. “Now we can pay a stipend to the workers. When we started out, we were not paying. We were just doing it on a voluntary basis,” he notes.

    The Cross Keys DAC Plantain Curls now provides seasonal employment for eight to 10 community members, and provides a direct market for more than 12 plantain farmers in the Central and South Manchester areas.

    From some 350lb of green plantains, the DAC can produce approximately 900 bags of “tasty, wholesome, premium snacks designed to satisfy a health-conscious consuming public,” Mr. Reid says.

    Chairman of the Cross Keys Development Area Committee (DAC), Smeadley Reid, displays the DAC’s Plantain Curls, at a Social Development Commission (SDC) Business Fair.

     

    The success of the DAC’s small business is attributed to the assistance received from the Social Development Commission.

    “Now and again, the SDC would offer capacity-building training and we would avail ourselves. They issued a call to offer assistance to DACs and we applied and we were considered and given a grant,” Mr. Reid tells JIS News.

    The LEDSP grant, valued at $85,000, was used to purchase equipment for the DAC’s plantain curls production, including a slicer that gives the plantain its characteristic curl.

    They also received promotion and marketing assistance through participation in several SDC Business Fairs. In fact, it was at one of the fairs that the DAC formed a partnership that led to it acquiring one of its major clients.

    Mr. Reid says although the plantain curls market is primarily in Manchester, where the DAC sells to local supermarkets and mini marts, “we also sell to Things Jamaican, which we came to know through the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), which also participates in SDC Fairs”.

    While the DAC plans to transition into producing cassava and sweet potato chips, with the hope of serving a larger market and employing more persons, the SDC’s Local Economic Development Coordinator for the parishes of Manchester and St. Elizabeth, Damian Lowe, says the agency plans to boost the image of the product.

    “We want to change the packaging and look at a more user- and economically friendly packaging, which should bring down the cost of the products. We want to showcase that this business is also environmentally friendly,” Mr. Rowe says.

    On the matter of growing small businesses, Mr. Reid advises that the SDC is “a good platform through which to launch your project. They offer advice and other services and they help to build capacity”.