A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) valued at $15.4 million was signed on April 20 between the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) to implement three projects, aimed at fostering sustainable growth and development of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) sector .
These are: an MSME Energy Conservation and Efficiency Project; establishment of a Craft ‘Biz’ Facility; and a Small Business Growth and Distribution Linkages Project.
Minister of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Anthony Hylton, speaking at the signing ceremony held at the JBDC's Marcus Garvey Drive offices, said the projects seek to strengthen the capacity of the MSME sector to contribute to economic growth.
Citing the energy efficiency project, he said it touches on a most critical area of economic activity.
The cost of energy, he said, “is perhaps the single most constraining factor on the growth and development of the economy…I believe the activities indicated are critical to not only deepening the awareness of the problem, but begins to address aspects of the problem that has long being ignored or not given fulsome attention” he stated.
Managing Director, DBJ, Milverton Reynolds, explained that the projects to be undertaken, will build capacity, enhance competitiveness among MSMEs, and provide business development service products, business mentors, technical service management products, and risk management interventions.
“We expect that these services will have a significant impact on many individuals, who operate in the MSME sector,” he stated.
Chief Executive Officer, JBDC, Valerie Veira, in her remarks, said the partnership will provide critical support to facilitate the growth of the sector.
The MSME Energy Conservation and Efficiency project will run for 12 months and will benefit approximately 60 companies. The purpose of the project is to promote energy conservation management so that businesses will achieve lower operational costs and increased productivity.
It will also focus on promoting energy efficiency through workshops, energy audits, and renewable energy solutions, as well as the creation of income earning opportunities through renewable energy.
The MoU will also allow for the JBDC to acquire energy solutions for the 60 targeted companies, publish two manuals for energy efficiency and conservation, acquire energy monitoring tools for conducting audits of 50 companies in the first instance, and subsidized audits for 20 companies.
Meanwhile, some 30 craft producers will be provided with specialized technical assistance and business development support through the Craft ‘Biz’ Facility, while the Small Business Growth and Distribution Linkages Project will strengthen the capacity of selected companies to take advantage of marketing and financing opportunities in an effort to create growth and development within their individual businesses.
Other support activities will include product development guidance and facilitation of enterprise readiness. Beneficiaries will also receive guidance in export readiness requirements and market testing and exposure opportunities.
By Chris Patterson, JIS Reporter