JIS News

The Banana Fibre project is to get a boost with a skilled Japanese volunteer coming to the island to assist with the development of the programme, which is being spearheaded by the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC).
Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet-Assamba, announced on Wednesday (April 21) that the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) had made arrangements to send the volunteer.
She made the announcement during her contribution to the 2004/05 Budget Debate at Gordon House.
Mrs. Ndombet-Assamba told her colleagues that during the past year the JBDC had focused on identifying and networking all the resources existing within the public sector system to ensure that a coordinated and relevant package of services were available to its clients.
The Minister informed that last year alone, the JBDC had provided over 28,000 man-hours of technical and business development services worth some $80 million. Nearly 800 persons received training and 24 business development workshops were held islandwide. The JBDC has 2,600 active clients and during the review period some 1,200 clients received business services from the Centre.
Mrs. Ndombet-Assamba pointed out that the JBDC had been focusing on identifying new niche market niches and indigenous materials including: natural fibre (such as banana); candy; dehydrated products; ceramics; fashion (jewellery and other accessories); ornamental fish; aromatics; textile industries (weaving and print designing); soft toys and dolls (including porcelain and collector dolls). In the area of metal craft, she informed, a consultant from India had already developed a work plan for that sector.
Turning to the Building Youth for National Development (BYoND) programme, the Tourism Minister said that since the initiative was launched in 2002, some 1,000 youth had completed internships with 410 being offered employment as a result of their internship performance. Also, 237 participants have been trained in business development, resulting in 65 new businesses, of which 26 have received grants for start-up. Meanwhile, a music programme has been launched under BYoND for young musicians. Thirty studio engineers, 18 vocalists and eight instrumentalists have already been trained.
In addition, the JBDC has successfully upgraded and strengthened the Things Jamaican Shops brand name, Mrs. Assamba said, through advertising promotional trade fairs and merchandising, and by implementing quality criteria on products accepted for the shops.
Over the past year, Things Jamaican Shops recorded a 14 per cent increase in sales over the previous year and there are now 300 suppliers participating in the new Things Jamaican Shops. Each supplier, Mrs. Assamba disclosed earned between $10,000 and $200,000 per month, with average monthly earning of $35,000, which represented a 30 per cent increase in average earnings over the previous year.
The JBDC will embark on a pilot project at the Negril Crafts Market this year, to assist those artisans and entrepreneurs in the areas of product development and business practices, to improve their competitiveness and viability. Similar programmes are to be established in major craft markets in other resort areas.

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