Business

Entrepreneur offers guidance on starting a business in Ja

By Alicia Roache Sunday Finance reporter roachea@jamaicaobserver.com

Sunday, September 12, 2010    

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A new book, practical and useful, has been added to the business landscape by young entrepreneur Kimala Bennett.

Bennett is the 29 year old author of the do-it-yourself manual: Starting a Business in Jamaica, which will be launched at the Devonshire, Devon House on Thursday, September 16, 2010. The launch is the culmination of a two year journey by Bennett whose vision is to make the entrepreneurial process a bit easier to begin.

Starting a Business in Jamaica, as the title suggests, is a step-by-step guide and comprehensive checklist on how to start and run a business in Jamaica. Bennett said the manual came out of the need to encourage young persons such as herself to legitimise their businesses and to make the process easier for them to do so.

"I want to move people from seeing themselves as hustlers to seeing themselves as entrepreneurs," Bennett told Sunday Finance recently. "Jamaica has a serious entrepreneurial spirit that is not matched anywhere else in the world. The spirit is obviously there. It is just for us now to educate," she said.

Bennett started The Business Lab, a production company with partner Melissa Llewellyn, after returning to Jamaica from the United States where she completed a first degree in Psychology and Film Studies. She described the process of registering her business with the various entities as 'tedious'. She said unlike her experience at the Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts in the US, the information was too fragmented to make the process seamless.

"It's not that the process was difficult," she said "It was a bit tedious because all the information was scattered all over the place. The information needed to be centralised," she said.

Bennett therefore decided to put together all the information relevant to starting a business in Jamaica in one place, a book she says is reader friendly and easy to follow.

"I am very intimidated by forms and I thought that if I am intimidated by forms a lot of other people are too," she said. Therefore, 'Starting a Business' has samples of all the forms that are needed, and includes instructions on how to complete them. Printable forms, including those from the companies office, the tax department, and the National Insurance Scheme (NIS), are also available on the CD ROM that accompanies the book.

Bennett has had the support and approval of all the major agencies, including the Tax Department and the Tourism Product Development Company (TPDCo), which she said was especially helpful in publishing the manual.

"The information in the manual is vetted by all the various agencies," she said.

"Starting a Business in Jamaica has come at a very opportune time when the global economic crunch has forced corporations to tighten their belts and have seen hundreds of professions without a job," said TPDCo executive director Earl Patrick.

Harold Davis, executive director of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), describes the manual as "an outstanding publication" which he believes will assist prospective entrepreneurs in manoeuvring the process of setting up a business in Jamaica.

"JBDC is pleased to endorse the efforts of The Business Lab as it prepares to release the first edition of starting a Business in Jamaica. We believe that it is a timely publication and hope that micro and small entrepreneurs will find the information useful," he said.

The manual also has a companion website which updates the information on the various processes as they change. The site is accessible by persons who have bought the manual. "Because its a manual we wanted it to be as specific as possible. If you have any question at all the website is there to help. The book also has a support system," said Bennett. In fact, the website has a 'ask the expert' link primarily for this process. The instructions are easy to read and in point form.

"People are very intimidated by the thought of starting a business. This manual will help you to say, 'I can do it because I understand the process'. It is a good base," Bennett said.

Given that getting a business up and running does not end at the Companies Office, Bennett believes that understanding the other aspects of the process and being prepared for it should shorten the time it takes to do so. "If you know what you are looking for and you know what to bring then things will be a lot easier," she said.

Support for Starting a Business in Jamaica has also come from academia. University of the West Indies lecturer in strategic planning Dr K'Adamawe K'nife said the manual is "the most timely and relevant text produced in the region on how to start a business in Jamaica".

Bennett hopes the text will make it on the textbook list of business schools. "We are definitely going into the institutions, going into a number of universities. We want to sensitise the young people about legitimising their businesses," she said. "It is through demystifying the process that people will be more accustomed to doing things the right way."

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