Minister of Industry, Investment, and Commerce, Senator Aubyn Hill (left), Lorenzo Escondeur (centre), chief of operations at the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IADB) Jamaica country office, and Kayla Grant, sector specialist at the IADB, engage in conversation during the MSME Business Roadshow’s Montego Bay leg at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay, St James on Thursday, October 26.
INDUSTRY, INVESTMENT and Commerce Minister Senator Aubyn Hill says micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME) must seek to build their wealth by forging partnerships with overseas markets and clients instead of relying only on the Jamaican market.
Hill made the recommendation last Thursday while delivering the keynote address during the opening session of the MSME Business Roadshow’s Montego Bay leg at the Half Moon Conference Centre in Montego Bay, St James.
The roadshow was the second in a series of four events held by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank.
“The reason why we are taking on this roadshow is to make sure that MSMEs get the help that they want from the funding agencies that we have. We enable them, we facilitate them, we encourage them, but also we are saying to them, don’t just look at the Jamaican market. We have only three million people, and our per capita gross domestic product (GDP) is relatively low at about US$5,000,” Hill told the session.
“We cannot get rich selling to only three million people who have a per capita GDP of US$5,000. There is no other country that we are near beside, like Spain, Portugal, France and Germany, so we can’t invade anybody. We are going to have to go overseas and negotiate something, or prepare our MSME companies to go overseas,” Hill added.
His call follows a previous recommendation from the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) in June this year for MSMEs to produce high-quality products for the international market.
A similar suggestion was made in 2018 by Diane Edwards, then-president of the Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), that MSME operators should get onboard with the Export Max III programme which would provide focused capacity-building, advocacy and market penetration support to exporters and export-ready firms.
The Export Max III programme was launched that year with the objective of enabling MSME operators to competitively position themselves to take advantage of market opportunities, which in turn would lead to a greater overall performance of the Jamaican economy.
During Thursday’s roadshow session, Hill noted that there are approximately 64,000 people who are employed in Jamaica’s MSME sector.
“The MSME sector constitutes 60 to 70 per cent of all jobs and contributes 44 per cent of Jamaican GDP. Those are big numbers for the country, and you would tend to think that those big numbers would largely come from big companies,” said Hill. “Big companies do lots of other good things, but the MSME sector is vital for the employment of a whole heap of people across Jamaica.”
Thursday’s MSME Business Roadshow saw MSME operators getting an opportunity to improve their business models through interactions with 20 agencies aligned to the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, as well as sharing sessions and business pitch competitions.
The first roadshow prior to Thursday’s session was held in Mandeville, Manchester on August 10, while the next two are scheduled to be held in Ocho Rios, St Ann on November 1 and in Kingston on November 21.
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The Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce is described as Jamaica's "Business Ministry." It's mandate is to lead the development of policies that will create growth and jobs, while achieving social inclusion and consumer protection. The Ministry, working its stakeholders is primarily responsible for business policy development, monitoring and evaluation, while giving direction and oversight to a cluster of implementing departments and agencies.
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