Young entrepreneurs seeking to strengthen business creation

BY PAUL ALLEN Business reporter allenp@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 18, 2011

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THE Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA), through its National Entrepreneurship Week (NEW), is seeking to strengthen business creation and development in Jamaica, despite the economic challenges.

"Entrepreneurship will always be the primary engine for growth in employment and productivity in any country," Tyrone Wilson, chairman of NEW 2011 told Caribbean Business Report. "During the recessionary period, we saw approximately 14 companies being listed on the Jamaica Stock Exchange's Junior market, raising billions of dollars in equity financing and adding more jobs to the economy. The bottom line is that entrepreneurship, (along with) the resilience of individuals, who, during the recession, saw unique business opportunities and went on to pursue these in unbearable financial times, kept Jamaica going."


Wilson said this was a good time for one to get involved in business, given several favourable factors.


"The economic indicators are convenient to entrepreneurship. Interest rates being at an all-time low, a stable foreign exchange rate and a strong capital market create a vibrant environment for businesses today," Wilson said.


Citing PanCaribbean's significant investment in the recent movie success Ghetta Life, Wilson said "in a less entrepreneurial environment, for example the 1990s, this would almost be impossible, because financial institutions would prefer to invest in government paper. So despite current low growth, the Government has put in place the right economic environment for entrepreneurship to be successful".


Wilson is also the founder and president of e-Zines Limited, an electronic magazine company.


Additionally, the YEA is responding to problems facing the local business environment, creating recommendations to address some of its weaknesses.


"The YEA is currently examining a project, being chaired by me, that we can submit to the Government on how to be better ranked in the Doing Business report", said Wilson. "Currently, Jamaica's ranking is poor and we see a few areas that we feel can tremendously increase our rankings. We will not reveal too much at this point in time, but we will reveal our findings by end of the year."


Jamaica's 2012 rank is 88 out of 183 countries, worsening in six of the 10 indicators used to asses the ease of doing business here.


Next week, November 20-25, marks the second annual staging of NEW, an occasion used to recognise and celebrate the accomplishments of local businesses and their owners.


"We will start the week off with the Opening and Expo that will be held on Sunday, November 20. Our other key events are our Entrepreneur Expo that will feature the minister of finance as our keynote speaker. YEA Cares -- our move towards promoting social entrepreneurship -- and of course, our Black Tie Gala," Wilson said.


Far from being just a social gathering, Wilson said it is hoped the week will "inspire individuals who are aspiring to become entrepreneurs and to also communicate with existing entrepreneurs, telling them to continue that hard work and that the nation is depending on us to drive growth and development. Most importantly, we want to encourage the Government to stay on the path of creating an environment that is suitable for entrepreneurs. If they take care of the entrepreneurial spirit, the entrepreneurs will take care of the growth of the country".


As for the YEA's future, Wilson said the organisation is determined to grow further. "The next move is to expand the membership, encourage individuals to join this forward-thinking organisation that is looking to contribute positively to our country. We are also in a transition, encouraging younger entrepreneurs to get involved so that we can be more organised when we try to influence change within our society."


The YEA was formed in 2005 and is a volunteer-driven non-profit organisation mandated to support young people in business. Aimed at business owners 45 and under, YEA provides members an opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and take advantage of peer mentorship as they grow their businesses.


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