KINGSTON — Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan, says it is essential that small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) employ appropriate technologies to remain competitive.
Mr. Budhan, who was addressing a seminar on modernising business management practices for SMEs at the Ministry in New Kingston on October 12, said that a number of the country’s small businesses seem to have fallen short in the area of information and communication technology (ICT).
He pointed to recent surveys, which indicated that most SMEs are not yet ready for the introduction of ICT in their operations. “Many saw no need for websites or for online transactions. That situation is changing although some SMEs will continue to lag behind for some time to come,” he stated.
He said it is for this reason that the Ministry decided to support the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) in the development of its Centralised Information Technology System.
The initiative, which is being implemented through grant funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), seeks to enhance the competitiveness of SMEs, by increasing their access to ICT. The Government is providing funding for the undertaking through the Ministry.
As part of the project, a centralised IT solution will be developed and offered to SMEs on a subscription basis. This will make the software more affordable and improve beneficiaries’ ability to efficiently operate their businesses.
Mr. Budhan expressed the hope that the project’s approximately 200 targeted companies would serve as examples for other small businesses to integrate technology into their business operations.
"We are hoping that you will lead the way, you will see the wisdom of employing this technology, you will go forward, you will blaze the trail, you will employ the new technology, and you will become models that you can also help to shine the light for others to follow. We are looking forward to you as the pioneers with this technology to lead the way,” he stated.
Immediate Past President of the SBAJ, Dalma James, said the seminar also presented the opportunity to examine the baseline data, which will “enable us to tailor whatever programme we are presenting to our members or to all users of the system so that we can be the best result out of it."
"It is going to form a base against which we will be able to measure the effectiveness of this programme,” he said.
The seminar, which was hosted by the SBAJ in collaboration with the Ministry, had the specific objectives to build awareness of management practices to increase productivity and sustain the business; and to obtain feedback on the recommendations for an information technology system to automate and integrate management functions carried out by SMEs.
The Government has long recognised SMEs as key drivers of economic growth and development and is always working to assist operators to boost their productivity and competitiveness, by offering financial and business development services.
By Alecia Smith, JIS Reporter