THE Jamaica Observer's Mogul in the Making may not be a 'cure all' for the challenges faced by fledgling businesses in Jamaica.
But the exposure has helped this year's 21 nominees, individuals who have already taken the first step in pursuing enterprise, to switch gears.
At a gala event in the Coutleigh Auditorium, New Kingston, on Wednesday to mark the end of this year's programme, the nominees got to mix with prominent members of the business community and other Jamaica Observer readers.
And the message they were telling everyone who would listen was that the exposure they received from the programme far exceeded the reach of any marketing they could afford.
Food Xpress Catering's Georgia Scarlett said the programme created "a launch pad for her company's marketing thrust".
Energy management company Solar Buzz Jamaica may have gotten a little more mileage than others — as a direct result of being featured in the programme, the company's CEO, Jason Robinson, was invited on to TVJ's Smile Jamaica morning programme to demonstrate one of his devices live.
Director of marketing and sales for Morgan's Group and founding secretary of the Young Entrepreneurs' Association (YEA), Aswad Morgan, said showcasing innovation while being truthful about the struggles of entrepreneurship will inspire others.
"When you read all the stories, a lot of people realise an entrepreneur's life is not an easy one," he said. "But we see a lot of innovation, which is always good."
Start-up and small business operators in Jamaica face many challenges, among them being: limited access to finance and the ability to use property as collateral; expensive and time-consuming regulatory requirements, such as licensing and registration; and tax structures that distort incentives and discriminate against small firms.
These, and other issues, have prompted the Government to table a discussion paper for a micro, small and medium enterprise (MSME) and entrepreneurial policy as early as this month.
The focus is on enhancing the role played by small firms in building the economy, developing their capabilities and improving the channels through which they participate in economic activities, according to the State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams.
In the meantime, Mogul in the Making has led to new business for at least some of the participants in the programme.
Robinson said his energy-efficient food pumps are being tested by a number of hotels since his story was featured. No Brands Chemicals' managing director Jason Dear said his company's cleaning agents have been added to the shelves of two large supermarket chains. And Glad Helpers' Angelica Barrett (one of the Three to Watch) spoke of more calls for her company's services. The proprietors of microfinance institutions Henlon Brown Capital and Sure Financial Services both report higher levels of walk-ins and more take-up of their services.
Omar Blagrove of Muffetta's Natural Products said the programme "helped with client confidence" in his company's products. His focus now for the company, which makes cleaning products and insecticides, ahead of Expo Jamaica 2012 — Jamaica's premiere biennial trade show — is to make sure his business can grow with demand for his products.