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The Jamaica Exporters Association (JEA) is looking to source financing for entrepreneurs under its 'Jamaica 50 Business Ideas for Sustainable Earning' initiative.

JEA President, Vitus Evans, said that discussions have been held with several financial institutions to provide financing of between $1 million and $5 million for viable projects. He said the response so far has been positive.

He was addressing the JEA's quarterly meeting held on Tuesday (Oct. 8) at the organisation's headquarters on Winchester Road, St. Andrew.

The programme, which is being undertaken in partnership with the Chartered Accounting firm, UHY Dawgen Jamaica, seeks to provide support services for new and existing entrepreneurs.

"The main thought behind this (initiative) is to enable a ‘hands on’ approach to entrepreneurship and business development to increase export marketing, facilitate growth in GDP (Gross Domestic Product), employment and foreign exchange," Mr. Evans said.

He explained that the programme will use the ‘Business in a Box’ concept, which will include business plans, company incorporation documents and other relevant applications as well as accounting aspects. Both UHY Dawgen and the JEA will provide guidance and support services to participants in the project.

Government is assisting the effort through the services of agencies such as the Scientific Research Council (SRC), Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Rural Agricultural Development Agency (RADA) and the EX-IM Bank.

Applicants will be properly screened and those chosen will be assisted in creating a profile and a business plan that will outline the marketing targets.

"A key feature of the project is to match applicants with successful buyers both locally and internationally. However, to achieve the quantity and quality, demand standards will be issued to each participant." Mr. Evans said.

Focus will be placed on businesses in three main areas – agro-processing, fresh produce and manufacturing. For agro-processing, the areas are: crushed West Indian red pepper, pepper mash, lemon grass oil, honey and sorrel jam. The fresh produce include escallion, red pepper, ginger, nutmeg, sweet and irish potatoes, lemon grass, beekeeping, yams, cassava, pumpkin and onions. In manufacturing, the areas are: personal care products, crochet projects and general garments.  

A sensitization programme for the initiative is already underway and JEA Vice President, Paul Lewis, said so far, the sessions have been a "tremendous success".

He said the JEA has been speaking to full houses of interested participants in Kingston and Manchester. The team will stage another forum today (Oct. 10)  in Ocho Rios, while a fourth will be held on October 24 at the RADA office in Montego Bay, St. James.

"What we have found is that there is a tremendous desire to be equipped with tools for change and those tools for change are the tools that are in the ‘Business in a Box’ concept. Those tools are the background elements that new businesses need to get off the ground,” Mr. Lewis said.