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Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), is reporting marked success in the implementation of the Export Centre/Business Information Point (EC/BIP) project, with over 60 per cent of its target group reached.
Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ held yesterday (Feb. 4) at the agency’s head office in Kingston, Business Facilitation Manager at the JTI, Marlene Porter, said that some 7,000 persons have been targeted for assistance under the project, which was implemented to address the lack of business information and guidelines available to Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs).
“It has been determined from surveys done that critical information is not readily available to all across the island.so this strategy is to address this lack of information and the lack of knowledge of certain technical aspects in business,” she said.
Outlining the operation of the facilities, Mrs. Porter said that BIPs are virtual and physical offices that have been set up island-wide to give MSMEs access to a range of standardised and value-added business information that will empower entrepreneurs and firms to increase their performance and profitability.
“The range of services provided through the BIPs include the requirements for starting a business, taxation issues, how you can identify sources of technical assistance, online links to all the partner agencies, agencies within Government, as well as the Jamaica Trade Point, where all the trade facilitation agencies are brought together so that you can complete transactions,” Mrs. Porter explained.
She noted also that through the BIPs, the MSMEs can participate in training sessions in accounting, marketing and information technology-related areas and get advice on other financial matters.
The export centres, on the other hand, aim to positively impact national export performance and competitiveness through the provision of a range of export-related advisory services and development tools.
The services offered by the facilities are available to new and established MSMEs; potential and existing exporters; all relevant intermediary and representative institutions as well as potential entrepreneurs and business interests.
JTI has overall management responsibility for the EC/BIP project island-wide and the agency collaborates with the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA) and the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), in the delivery of the service.
Facilities have already been established at the JTI, JEA and JBDC Kingston headquarters with three additional BIP satellite locations in Negril, Westmoreland, Lucea, Hanover, and Montego Bay, St. James. Overtime, the network will expand to 12 or more venues across Jamaica.
Mrs. Porter noted that the EC/BIP project has been impacting the MSMEs in a positive way and urged business interests to utilise the facilities in order to “enhance the competitiveness of their businesses.”
“We expect that the full implementation of the EC/BIP initiative will contribute to employment creation and enhance quality of life for Jamaicans,” Mrs. Porter stated, adding that support to the MSMEs is even now more critical, in light of the world economic challenges.
The EC/BIP project is a component of the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), geared toward providing a range of technical and financial services to help enhance the environments in which it operates. The five-year PSDP comes to an end in December 2009.