Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, is urging greater use of technology by small and medium-sized enterprises (SME).
He stated that Information Communication Technologies (ICT) play a critical role in improving internal business processes as well as interface with various stakeholders.
“We need to focus on the role of information and communication technologies in facilitating SMEs as the world moves towards e-business. In particular, those SMEs that specialise in the production of low volume, high value niche products, will be ideally positioned to benefit from the marketing and distribution advantages offered through e-commerce,” he said.
Minister of State in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern (right), greets Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) expert assigned to the Ministry, Akihiko Urata, during JICA’s seminar on small and medium enterprise development held today (Aug.11) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston.
The State Minister, who was speaking at the Japan International Cooperation Agency’s (JICA) seminar on small and medium enterprise development today (Aug. 11) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston, said that most SME operations tend to be characterised by low technology use due to a number of factors such as the cost of the required tools.
“Therefore, we need not only to promote greater use of technology by our SMEs, but also look at how we can make the technology more affordable,” he stated.
Turning to Government assistance to the sector, Mr. Stern said that the Ministry has been spearheading efforts to introduce financing options for SMEs, which would be less dependent on the traditional collateral, and continues to provide funding to micro credit institutions to facilitate affordable lending.
“It is within this context that we continue to facilitate the establishment of a credit bureau in Jamaica in order to furnish financial intermediaries with necessary information to assist in their assessment of the credit worthiness of SMEs,” he said.
Minister of State for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern (second right) greets Resident Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)/ Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV), Kineo Nishiyama (left) during JICA’s seminar on small and medium enterprise development today (Aug.11) at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston. Looking on are Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Reginald Budhan.
Mr. Stern also pointed to the need for the SME sector to attract more highly skilled personnel.
“If we are to sell more products and services and compete effectively in the global marketplace, our small businesses must improve their technical and managerial skills. We need to ensure that the products and services of our SMEs are capable of competing not only against those of other SMEs but also with larger businesses, both locally and foreign,” he said.
State Minister for Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte, in her remarks, noted the various efforts the Government is undertaking to further develop the SME sector and the far-reaching and meaningful technical assistance received from JICA in the process.
She said that the focus of the seminar is of particular significance to Jamaica as SMEs play a pivotal role in the economy through employment creation at lower capital costs.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, His Excellency Hiroshi Yamaguchi, for his part, stated that SMEs are the main engine of economic growth in Japan.
He said that they employ more people at a national level as they are scattered throughout the country and are more innovative compared to bigger businesses.