JIS News

The Government of Jamaica has partnered with two (2) international firms to deliver digital marketing solutions and e-commerce opportunities to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as a mechanism to cope with the impact of physical distancing and other restrictive measures due to the COVID 19 pandemic.

This digitalization programme is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), and was initiated as early as August 2019 through an arrangement with Kalou, a Google-affiliated small business online marketing solution. Since then, over 1,000 MSMEs have created webpages and have increased their market visibility to customers locally and overseas. The Kalou arrangement allows merchants to create their own webpage in less than 5 minutes at no cost and offers top placement in Google’s search results in the Google Map section free of cost to its clients. Persons transacting business with merchants who use the Kalou platform are required to make payment using PayPal.

Fygaro is the latest entrant to the programme and that relationship was cemented in October 2020. Fygaro is an e-commerce generator that provides options to assist MSMEs with basic e-commerce services, through the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, the National Commercial Bank and other members of the MSMEs ecosystem. The Fygaro partnership offers businesses the opportunity to create their own website, facilitate online stores, payment buttons, links for social media, WhatsApp, invoicing, order management, online accounting and logistics integration. Merchants operating via this platform will incur no setup cost but are required to pay a minimal monthly fee of US$15 for the integrated suite of services. Under the arrangement with the Government of Jamaica, merchants who sign up with Fygaro will benefit from a three-month free trial period.

Both platforms (Kolau and Fygaro) are being utilized to further the Government’s goal of digitalizing 25,000 MSMEs by 2022. Additionally, MSMEs are being trained in digital marketing and other capacity-building subject areas via webinars and YouTube live sessions in order to optimize their operation in the digital marketplace.

In recognizing the importance of the digital space in business, particularly within an environment characterized by physical distancing and curfews, initiatives such as these are being pursued by Government to drive local businesses, increase market access, expand customer base and boost earning potential. This initiative is particularly relevant as businesses try to find creative ways of weathering the effects of the covid-19 pandemic on the market. The programme is also consistent with the objectives of the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy, 2018 to “internationationalize” small businesses in Jamaica and to increase their sales and exports of goods and services internationally.

Business owners wishing to take advantage of this opportunity can begin the process through the Ministry’s MSME webpage at http://www.micaf.gov.jm/content/msme and on the website of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) at http://www.jbdc.net.

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