All is not lost, go back to the roots of entrepreneurship — Young Entrepreneurs president

All is not lost, go back to the roots of entrepreneurship — Young Entrepreneurs president

Observer business reporter

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

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While the economy has contracted by an estimated 18 per cent for the second quarter, according to the Planning Institute of Jamaica's (PIOJ) latest report, president of the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) Cordell Williams-Grahamn is underscoring the importance for entrepreneurs to consider the COVID-19 crisis as a strong driver of creativity and innovation.

According to her, the economic decline did not come as a shock but she is of the opinion that innovation is the key to post-crisis growth.

“While it is a dark time in the history of the world and our economy, I would say all is not lost and if we are going to stay in business we must use this downtime to dig deep and find the creativity and innovation that Jamaica and Jamaicans are known for so that we can get our business and the country back on track. Entrepreneurs should use this opportunity to reassess and repurpose their existing offerings and improve their technical and operational capacity and efficiency to meet new and emerging demands,” Williams-Graham told the Business Observer.

“Most entrepreneurs have reported business revenues falling off by at least 40 per cent and many have resorted to closing their doors and significantly downsizing their operations. With the [micro, small and medium-sized enterprises] representing over 95 per cent of the productive capacity of the country, we expect things may get worse,” she continued.

The PIOJ report revealed that during the April-June period there was weakened consumer demand associated with lower income due to job losses and reduced work hours. The goods producing industry also contracted by an estimated seven per cent, with activities in the services industry declining by 20.6 per cent.

Williams-Graham indicated that regardless of the size of the businesses, entrepreneurs should implement a crisis-proof strategy by improving business continuity plans, adopting telecommuting working arrangements, and implementing digital transformation (as deemed fit) and expenditure frameworks.

The president added that MSMEs will require a sustainable and institutionalised development approach from the Government.

This, she said, should include a legislative framework in support of flexible work arrangements across both the private and public sectors, increased allocation of funding/resources to business hubs, training and technical support organisations that support MSMEs, incentivised participation in the formal sector, and provide additional capital support to the micro finance institutions to on-lend to low-income earners.

The Young Entrepreneurs Association, which currently has 70 active members, is a non-profit organisation whose mandate is to support young people in business and provide the ultimate community for young entrepreneurs across Jamaica who want to increase their chances of business success.

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