Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda, has said that greater focus is to be placed on micro enterprises, which he feels, have largely been ignored in the thrust to assist small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Karl Samuda.
He said while more than 90 per cent of businesses in Jamaica fall in the SME category, most of these operations are involved in distribution and the services industry, with only about four per cent engaged in actual manufacturing and agricultural production.
Mr. Samuda said the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) is working to increase creativity and innovation among micro business, which form the base of the economy, to reverse this trend of low primary production in the country.
“We have to encourage the small business and the micro-business player to look at what you are importing and say to yourself that ‘we are as efficient as any human being on the planet earth’. the only difference is the application and use of appropriate technology’,” he stated at a SME conference this morning (October 8) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.
Mr. Samuda said that in providing assistance to micro enterprises, adequate training, lower interest rate loans, and simplified processes for accessing those loans, are imperative.
He informed that while the Government has surpassed its objective of ensuring that at least 15 per cent of all public contracts go to the SME sector, micro players have not been able to sufficiently benefit from that facility.
“If the objective is to enrich the base, to empower the base, so that the base can take its rightful place in our economic development strategy, then we must find the answer to ensuring that adequate monitoring exists for that base. (We must determine) what is the actual outcome and to what extent we can measure the success rate of our policy,” he stated.
The conference, organised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, was held under the theme: ‘Creating Sustainable Entrepreneurship’, and focused on the challenges and opportunities that currently face SMEs in the Caribbean.
President of the ACCA, Mr. Mark Gold, noted that a global study done by his association found that access to financing was the biggest challenge faced by all companies, but SMEs in particular.
He suggested that policymakers and lenders should reduce credit uncertainty by publishing comprehensive information on business lending trends and lender requirements for business loans. He also suggested that banks adopt an individualistic approach to assessing risks on loans.