THOUGH the Jamaica Observer’s inaugural Mogul in the Making programme has ended, its impact and the opportunities created for its nominees continue.
For nearly three months, 21 businesses that all started during the past three difficult years were selected, interviewed and put on show. With none being quite like the other, it provided an opportunity for Jamaicans to see the scope of business around them and to discover what makes a small company tick.
“The Jamaica Observer’s Mogul in the Making programme has made the most significant impact on my business since its inception,” said Jason Dear, owner of No Brand Chemicals. Remarkably, his business has tripled since his participation, Dear said.
“My products are now sold in more than nine parishes and have been added to the shelves of two large supermarket chains, rural supermarkets, wholesales and vendors in downtown Kingston.”
The reach of the programme extends beyond the pages of the Jamaica Observer, as the website coverage has generated international buzz.
Nadine Boothe-Gooden, like Dear and several other nominees, has received foreign interest for her company, International Business and Language Consulting. “I have been retained by an Engineering company to provide translation and interpreting services”, Boothe-Gooden said. “We have signed a contract with an American company that read the featured article, and we will be providing them interpreting, translation and quality assurance services in China. We have even received a job application from a Russian who is now residing in the United States of America.”
That’s the influence Mogul in the Making was fashioned to have, bringing together moguls and those seeking to join their ranks.
“I got to know people that I’ve heard or read about and wanted to meet,” said Andrea Green of With Ease Catalogue. “ Adam Stewart was one of the persons that I had on my list of ‘must-meet’ people for 2012. To my delight, I met him (at the Mogul in the Making event).
It’s widely acknowledged that small businesses, such as the dozens that responded to the Observer’s call for submissions, make up a significant part of economies globally; however, they often do not receive the kind of support needed. Mogul was thought of to redress that problem and give added impetus for people not only to engage with small businesses but to seriously contemplate creating their own.
“Before Mogul in the Making, most persons knew nothing about our existence,” said Angelica Barrett of Glad Helpers. The cleaning service, which Barrett said had marketing and promotional problems but no budget to fund it, was chosen as the Journalists’ Choice. “It has definitely been a great experience and we would like to encourage any young entrepreneur to view it as a great opportunity,” Barrett said, adding that she’s gotten “motivation and confidence to continue sharing our exceptional service with others”.
Alex Morrissey’s Jamaicansmusic.com, which allows people anywhere in the world to listen to Jamaican music, some of it streamed live, was the People’s Choice while Erica Wynter’s of business assistance and mail delivery company C&E Innovational Services was selected as the Judges’ Choice.
Some people believe that entrepreneurship is no great feat, and that it gives owners the opportunity to make their own rules. While there is a grain of truth to this, the painstaking hours, financial difficulties, and the challenge of being a ‘small fish in a big pond’ are just some of the snags faced by small businesses. Yet, the desire to own a business and work hard burns bright for some, refusing to be put out.
That hard work is now paying off, said Stacey Robinson, owner of Robinson’s Fowl Farm. “I was just on the phone with a potential business partner who said he was flipping through the paper today and saw us. He wants to understand what I was doing and how he can become a part of it,” she said. Additionally, she’s had offers from people wanting to be her suppliers, and from others wanting her to supply them. One asked her to provide chickens for the company’s events and she remains in contact with a woman she met at the even who wants her to co-host a television show.
“I must say that the celebrity feeling has not died down as yet,” she said, adding that she’s had to hire another employee due to overwhelming demand for her Farm Fresh Chickens.
Mogul in the Making also offers longer-term benefits, including training in technical skills and other assistance through its sponsors, Columbus Business Solutions (CBS) and Scotiabank’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) Unit.
CBS and Scotia SME will be providing three capacitybuilding workshops, which will speak to issues related to record keeping, finance, and customer service and technology.
Jamaicans burn with entrepreneurial fire, said Patsy Latchman-Atterbury, vice-president of Scotiabank’s SME unit, adding that it needs to be appropriately guided. “It’s a great vehicle to give them exposure and network and grow their business.”
Although small and mediumsized enterprises have a high failure rate, would-be businessmen (and women) need to enter their selected industries with the intention of being aggressive, even with the “larger, more established competitors”, said John Clare, CBS’s director.
For some of the 21 nominees, the future will see them become “larger, more established” companies.
“One thing is for certain, SHHH Boutique is hardly a secret anymore,” said its owner Durren McLean. “The reach is beyond Kingston, I'm hardly Mr SHHH as I’ve gained a new title… Mogul,” he said.