SMALL and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of most economies.
They provide 80 per cent of new employment created, by Rex James's reckoning.
Moreover, recent research, which showed that SMEs contributed to two-thirds of the economies in Europe, reflected their global importance, according to Christopher Lowe.
But both men, who were former managing directors of National Commercial Bank (NCB), agreed that the SMEs' role in development extended beyond creating jobs.
Mayberry Investments and Jamaica Money Market Brokers were created by former bankers in the local financial sector, James recalled, while Edward Gayle turned into what is now known as NCB Capital Markets.
"SMEs have changed the way we look at the financial sector, they have been game changers," said James. "They play an important role in our development and not just mere employment."
The commercial bank's current managing director, Patrick Hylton, said that NCB has been targeting its lending towards SMEs in areas that lead to improved efficiencies in operations and energy.
What's more, many of the companies have been expanding the range of products and services they offer.
And while enhancing productivity and innovation are essential tools in establishing strong business models, Hylton's predecessor, Aubyn Hill, recommends that SMEs use more co-operation in order to develop into stronger, longer lasting organisations.
"One of the best creation of western capitalism is something called the limited liability company," he said.
He advises that friends, and sometimes families, should look at joining resources and setting up companies with shares.
"You don't have to take the risks that involved in running the company," Hill added. "You don't have to take all the financial burden, because you can't always find the cash."
He believes that the idea of creating wealth is more likely to be realised using this approach.
The four managing directors, past and present, were speaking at the NCB Nation Builder Award dinner, where Canco Limited was recognised as this year's winner.
Canco owns and trades Linstead Market Jamaica brand of products.
In its 26 years of operations, Canco Limited has grown to become a leading producer and exporter of canned ackees and callaloo worldwide.
Having expanded in 2005, in order to introduce new products to the local and international markets, in 2006, the company changed its trading brand from Country Choice to become Linstead Market Jamaica to offer its new products to include canned soups, seasoned coconut milk, jams, and chutney, while simultaneously expanding its local distribution arm.
The annual awards programme celebrates small and medium-sized businesses which demonstrate outstanding entrepreneurial performance and strong community involvement and impact.