MSME Alliance signs MoU to increase Jamaica’s presence in diaspora

BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Saturday, June 20, 2015

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PROBABLY the least talked about highlight of the 2015 Jamaica Diaspora Conference, which ended on Thursday in Montego Bay, was the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Jamaica's Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Alliance and UK-based Caribbean Enterprise Network (CENUK).

President of the MSME Alliance, Donovan Wignall, says the MOU formally bonded the two agencies in an effort to increase the flow of foreign direct investments from the diaspora into Jamaica, and open up new markets in the United Kingdom and, eventually, the rest of Europe and North America to Jamaican products.

"What this MoU does, is to provide an avenue for people who want to invest in Jamaica to have access to the information they need, and inform us about investment possibilities, training opportunities and the chances of mentoring and upscaling our businesses to meet the challenges," Wignall said.

"Basically, whatever CENUK is doing for MSMEs in the UK, they will be doing for the MSMEs in Jamaica," he summed up.

"We had been talking for the past two years, and with the signing we are now formally engaged in the process, and we are prepared to work this relationship to maximise the benefits that will be available to us," Wignall said.

"We are very excited by this initiative, which could go a long way in upgrading and up-skilling local MSMEs," said Denis St. Bernard, director of CENUK and its spokesman on diaspora business.

"If we are to really to move Jamaica forward, economically in a dynamic way, we need to employ and create dynamic solutions," he said.

Bernard was instrumental, through his company Priority Group International in collaboration with CENUK,
in bringing Nigerian ICT company Courteville to Jamaica to acquire a Jamaican entity. Courteville is investing more than J$300 million and creating 50-100 jobs in the process.

Bernard said that this investment is a small example of "walking the talk" which, he suggested, is what Jamaican investors ought to be focusing on.

"We have not made
any pronouncements, or promises: We just did it. The resources came from our pockets, hard work and sweat, and now we know how to do it," Bernard said.

"Jamaica needs more doers and less talkers. Doers will put their money where their mouths are and risk their capital to make it happen," he explained.


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