JIS News

Executive Director of the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), Harold Davis is heralding entrepreneurship as the career of the millennium, as he says, all of the economies that have grown in recent times have done so “on the back of entrepreneurship”.
Citing statistics from the Planning Institute of Jamaica, Mr. Davis says that some 365,000 Jamaicans are categorized as “own account holders”, meaning that they are not employed to government or private sector. “That represents more than a third of the employable population of Jamaica. It means that a significant portion of our economy’s employment right now is due to entrepreneurship”, he points out.
He notes that for entrepreneurship to be a successful endeavour, “we have to have a certain level of mettle and of commitment and the aptitude to make it work. Many times young persons tend to use youth as an excuse for being unprepared and definitely being uncommitted.”
The youth, he says need to have more energy and to ensure that they are innovative and creative. “Nothing is wrong with enthusiasm. Where the issue comes to boot sometimes is when we come into the situation unprepared. Entrepreneurship is something that requires us to be prepared, to be on top of things, to be aware of every situation that relates to the business that we are in,” Dr. Davis states.
The JBDC is one of a number of organizations that have signed on to the Jamaica Social Policy Evaluation Project’s (JASPEV) Youth Inclusion Charters of Collaboration on entrepreneurship, continuing education, and police/youth relations.
Speaking of the JBDC’s commitment to entrepreneurship and the youth at the signing held yesterday (Feb.1) at the Jamaica Employers’ Federation Ruthven Road offices, Mr. Davis informs that in the first phase of the Building Youth for National Development (BYOND) project, the corporation had assisted some 1,400 young persons, 1,200 of whom had completed internships. Of this number, 410 persons were permanently employed while 250 were trained in business start up. Ninety-two businesses began as a result.
In the second phase, the government invested a further $50 million in the project. So far, Mr. Davis says, almost 1,000 youth have been assisted, with 417 completing internships, while 500 have been trained for business start-up, resulting in the initiation of some 116 businesses.
Mr. Davis says these results show that there is commitment and that young persons could excel at entrepreneurship, “so we should continue to invest these kinds of resources in this group”.
“We (the JBDC) see ourselves as network brokers and as such, we are committed to working with all of the agencies that will bring to the table either technical or business services that are related to business development and growth of the entrepreneurship sector, so we link with agencies such as the Scientific Research Council, HEART Trust/NTA and the Self-Start Fund,” he asserts.
He further emphasized that there is a symbiotic relationship between the three charter areas. “If you try to promote entrepreneurship in some communities without the appropriate training and appropriate skills, you are on a downhill path, not to mention the fact that there are some communities that tell us when we can come to assist them and when we can’t. So, the whole business of a close relationship with youth and the police is also very important,” he states.
Meanwhile, Prototype Coordinator for JASPEV, Steadman Noble, points out that the charters, although they may reflect an intention to improve government policy, are not in and of themselves policies.
He notes also that they are not projects of JASPEV but instead seek to “strengthen the institutions that are delivering services and to ensure that there is greater coordination and collaboration”.
“The spirit of these charters are really to promote and encourage greater collaboration and synergies across the institutions that deliver services. They are instruments to guide coordination and coherence in policy implementation. They provide an approach and methodology to which communities and citizens can access government policy and contribute to their design and implementation,” he informs.
The Prototype Coordinator further explains that the charters provide a medium for bringing all three levels of the policy process together – communities and agencies across different sectors, and the political directorate – and for them to partner in delivering services.
“They suggest mechanisms for identifying best practices and lessons, which can be used to support the overall public sector reform programme of the government and they represent an intent on the part of the government to institutionalize new processes for improving public services,” he states.
Speaking specifically to the entrepreneurship charter, Mr. Noble says there will be 10 private sessions across the island, targeting some 50 young entrepreneurs per parish, who will be drawn from the 37 participating communities. The main objectives of these sessions will be to identify and screen the local business ideas and projects, which the young people have, and to work with them after these sessions to provide the necessary support and link them to the different agencies that are providing these services.
“For this area, the JBDC will be leading this charge to expose young entrepreneurs to new and innovative business solutions for which we know that there is a market demand. We have already received from a number of the young people from the communities, business ideas that they are working on or that they have already thought of and also to look at new and emerging areas that they can tap into,” he informs.
Also, these fora will be used to discuss with young entrepreneurs, their challenges and provide solutions. This historic move comes on the heels of the celebration last year of the International Year for Micro Credit. Mr. Noble expresses the hope that through this particular interface, information “will be transferred to the troika where we can look at those bottlenecks that entrepreneurs are facing and come up with solutions as to how we might be able to remove some of those bottlenecks”. The troika is a three-member bipartisan team comprising State Minister for Education, Youth and Culture, Dr. Donald Rhodd; State Minister for Labour and Social Security, Senator Floyd Morris; and Member of Parliament for West Central St. Andrew, Andrew Holness.
Mr. Noble says that following these sessions, the plan is to filter some of these youth into the JBDC’s BYOND programme, to provide entrepreneurship exposure.
He says that despite the fact that the programme has been very successful, the rural networks need more involvement from young persons. He informs that JASPEV has also been working on institutional arrangements with the HEART Trust/ NTA to provide training. Also, he says, “we are hoping that some of these young people will find their way to become members of the JEF’s Youth Entrepreneurship Network and where possible, in the Youth Entrepreneurship Association”. Mr. Noble adds that communities are being urged to monitor the results of these interactions with the agencies, “so that we can hear how they feel about the agencies’ service delivery and how they feel about the results that are being delivered at the community level”.

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