Government's small business facilitator will charge participants $30,000 to attend its inaugural 'Tapping into Donor Funds' workshop slated for next month.
Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) hosts numerous workshops but 'Tapping into Donor Funds' appears amongst the priciest based on checks by this newspaper. The three-day workshop, starting November 5, seeks to arm businesses with the skills to access local and international funding.
"The cost of the event can't be compared with the value you are getting. It's incomparable," said Lisa Taylor-Stone, manager of projects and research at the JBDC in a phone interview with Caribbean Business Report.
"They will leave with a tangible, fully developed proposal that will be ready for submission to donor agencies," she noted.
The workshop's price towers above the $24,000 charge for a Manual Pattern Making workshop in 2012 which ran for 13-weeks (January to April).
"Its not just a regular workshop but an intervention. So what you get for the $30,000 is capacity building; the writing [of] strategic proposals as it relates to donor requirements; and areas in which donors are seeking to inject funds," she explained.
Participants also get four hours of post-workshop mentoring sessions -- three weeks following the workshop, access to JBDC's funders registry, and also complementary access to the JBDC Business Start-up Expo.
The workshop will include presentations and insight from the Development Bank of Jamaica, NCB Foundation, Inter-American Development Bank and Canadian International Development Agency.
JBDC will target some 30 participants for the donor workshop, including entrepreneurs, fund managers, employees of foundations and the general public.
"We want to ensure that all 30 persons leave the workshop with fully developed proposals ready for submission," she said.
At least one expert, Dr Rosalea Hamilton, a past president of the MSME Alliance lobby group, indicated that the pricing will pose "challenges" for some small business owners.
"The workshop is a good thing in that it will build capacity necessary to take micro and small and medium enterprises (MSME) to the next level," said Hamilton, who is currently a professor in the Scotia Bank chair for entrepreneurship and development at University of Technology. "[The pricing] is a challenge. Most small businesses may find it financially challenging....It will likely pose a challenge in this tight economy."
JBDC indicated that the price quoted is already "highly subsidized". JBDC will host two similar workshops in 2014, but the cost will remain constant barring heavy sponsorship.
"So it's a series that we will be doing and it will be integrated with our regular product offering," said Taylor-Stone.
JBDC, established as one of the premiere business support organisations, has assisted over 2,000 businesses since inception. The corporation provides business and incubator support services.