Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Audley Shaw, says the Government is embarking on an initiative to facilitate the digitization of over 25,000 business enterprises’ operations within the next three years.
“With the demand to go digital, especially given the current [coronavirus (COVID-19)] pandemic, information technology-enabled services, logistics and digital transfers of goods and services are now commonplace,” Mr. Shaw noted.
He said this undertaking is among several initiatives designed to support local entrepreneurs, particularly micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), which are being pursued by the Administration.
The Minister advised that this thrust comes against the background of a 4.4 per cent contraction projected for the global economy in 2020, adding that this, among other factors, necessitated the initiation of new strategies and programmes to bolster entrepreneurship and innovation.
Mr. Shaw said that among the crucial pillars of the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy 2018, is the stimulation of an engrained culture of entrepreneurship augmented by creativity, innovation and problem solving.
“To stimulate this culture, we have to demystify the fear of business failure and put systems in place to assist with the rehabilitation of businesses, such as the insolvency legislation passed in 2014,” he stated.
Mr. Shaw indicated that the Ministry will also seek to continue providing the appropriate business development and capacity building services, tailored to address particular stages of the business lifecycle.
“These include training in business management, marketing techniques and financial management,” Mr. Shaw informed.
He said these engagements will be spearheaded by the Ministry’s agencies – the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ), and the Companies Office of Jamaica (COJ).
Minister Shaw pointed out that the Government is committed to increasing access to affordable and appropriate financing for growth and expansion.
“We do this through equity-based financial products with the use of moveable asset-based lending products, venture capital funding and partial guarantee schemes offered by the Ministry’s primary institutions – the Development Bank of Jamaica and the Export-Import Bank,” he further indicated.
Against the background of Global Entrepreneurship Week, which is being observed from November 16-22 under four themes – ‘Education’, ‘Ecosystems’, ‘Inclusion’, and ‘Policy’, Mr. Shaw said MSMEs remain the backbone of Jamaica’s economy, adding that they represent the country’s most significant source of new employment.