Small Businesses to be Assisted Through EC/BIP


Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Michael Stern, has said that the government has adopted a broad-based approach to increase the competitiveness of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs).
This is being done through the Export Centre and Business Information Point (EC/BIP), in collaboration with the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP), Jamaica Trade and Invest (JTI), the European Union (EU), the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC), and the Jamaica Exporters’ Association (JEA).
The State Minister was speaking at the official launch of the EC/BIP, at the Pegasus Hotel in Kingston, on February 28.
Mr. Stern said the EC/BIP would provide standardized universal and value-added services to potential and existing exporters, to help entrepreneurs and business people to improve performance and profitability.
He pointed out that while Jamaica has been a high performer in the area of Foreign Direct Investments (FDI) over the last 15 years, enough has not been done to aid small businesses.
“Ever since the late 90’s, we have been able to retain FDI at levels reaching more than twice as high as the average of other countries. Figures reveal that between 1999 and 2004, there was an inflow average of US$850 million. While this performance is noteworthy, Jamaica has been unable to capture the full benefits of those FDI inflows to the representatives of the micro, small and medium enterprises,” he noted. “I know we can come up with a number of reasons why this may be happening, but with the establishment of these centres and points around the island, our business people will certainly have access to more information and service that will help them in achieving their goals and dreams of becoming successful operators,” the State Minister added.
He said that doing business in Jamaica and the world requires partnerships at all levels that engage in activities which drive sustained business success, and that “we can only achieve this if we keep up-to-date on information and best-business practices and show the world that today’s Jamaica means business.”
“Under the EC/BIP project, it is hoped that exporters and potential exporters of goods and services will have access to all the facilities that will enhance their products,” he said.
Mr. Stern highlighted a three-pronged approach that would help to build and strengthen competitiveness in Jamaica: closer business/government partnership; effective networking of national agencies involved in the value chain and; the use of new and emerging technologies.
The State Minister also pointed out that globalization has sharpened competition and that the main challenge facing firms is how to make use of new resources and markets while dealing with intense global competition.
“As a developing country, we are exposed to new technologies, skills, technical assistance and financial sources from the global economy; so no longer can we depend on satisfying the needs of a domestic market. However, the challenge we face is that of meeting the price, quality and delivery standards of international markets; we can only do that if we are competitive,” he emphasised. “With the support of the EC/BIP, we will continue to help weaker firms to help themselves, have government plug information gaps and participate in building infrastructure,” he pointed out. The JBDC, JEA, and JTI will be responsible for the pilot phase of the project.

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