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The first in a series of three symposia focusing on Jamaica’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector got underway yesterday (May 12) on the Mona campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI).
The series, being hosted by the university in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, and Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI)/Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), is aimed at stimulating further discussions on the policies that are required to foster the growth and development of the country’s MSME sector.
Themed: ‘Creating a Policy Framework for the MSME Sector in the Jamaican Economy’, the seminars have the objective to get a broad cross-section of MSME stakeholders from the public and private sectors to assess and prioritise existing policy proposals, and point the way towards early policy adoption and implementation that have the potential to significantly impact Jamaica’s development.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, said the fact that the symposia are being anchored by the university is important as “universities have a role to play in the development of nations in general.”

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan (left) addresses a symposium on Jamaica’s micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector, held at the University of the West Indies, Mona on Wednesday, May 12. Looking on are: Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, Professor Gordon Shirley (2nd left) ; and Head of the Department of Economics at UWI, Professor Claremont Kirton.

General Manager of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Earl Jarrett, who was also the chairperson for the event, lauded the collaborative partners for “this focus on the MSME sector.”
“It is clear that we all need to address the challenges being experienced by small business entrepreneurs, through the creation of a formal policy framework to drive the development of the sector in Jamaica,” he stated.
Mr. Jarrett pointed out that despite efforts to analyse and address the needs of the MSME sector, it continues to be under-developed, although several surveys indicate that some 500,000 to 700,000 persons are interested in accessing micro-finance.
“This indicates that there is extensive room for growth in the sector and one reason for this, is the fact that there has not been the development of national policy framework to guide the sector and to strengthen our local MSME enterprises, which is estimated to account for some 80 per cent of the Jamaican workforce,” he noted.
Principal of UWI Mona, Professor Gordon Shirley, said that there are a number of challenges that impede the potential of the sector to contribute as intensively as it could to the development of the economy.
He said that the series of symposia will address some of these impediments with a view to identifying solutions and developing a policy framework for the sector.
The topic discussed at today’s event was: ‘Two Key Burdens Affecting MSMEs: Financing and Tax Administration’.
The other sessions will be held on May 26 and June 10, to discuss, respectively, ‘Two Key Types of Non-Financial Support Needed: Business Development Services and Networking Clustering’; and ‘Key Issues for the Future: Internationalisation, Innovation and Intellectual Property Rights’.