Nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit

‘Big ideas’ put on display at JBDC open day

BY KIMONE THOMPSON Associate editor features

Friday, November 22, 2013

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TO most people, the bark of a banana tree is useless. But the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is not most people.

What farmers discard as waste or invariably use as mulch, it uses to make paper. That paper is then used to make jewellery, clocks, lampshades, bags, photo frames and trinket boxes.

Those products and a range of others were on display at the corporation's incubator and resource centre on Marcus Garvey Drive on Wednesday during an open day as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Interestingly, the Corporation learned about making paper from the banana tree from a Japanese professor with the intention to make writing paper but it has instead turned to using the paper for visual art.

"We realised that's not where the money is. So we've done wedding invitations, lampshades, jewellery, etc," explained technical services manager Colin Porter.

Given that the paper is made from natural fibres, Porter said it lent itself well to art because it does not appear to deteriorate and does not change colour.

"We've not done any scientific tests, but from our observation, the paper doesn't deteriorate, it doesn't rot, it doesn't change colour because it's a natural resource, so there are no acids," he told the Jamaica Observer.

The JBDC is a co-operative arrangement among Government agencies, the private sector and the academic community. Opened in April 2008, it acts as a business support organisation for start-ups and established businesses alike. Among the services it offers are product development, financial counselling and brokering, as well as marketing and incubation services in the food, fashion and craft sectors.

State minister of industry, investment and commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, brought greetings at the opening of the day's proceedings. She praised the work of the corporation and urged entrepreneurs to follow through on their business ideas and plans in order to turn them into real business and real money.

"KFC started out in somebody's kitchen," she said in reference to the Kentucky Fried Chicken fast food chain.

"Big ideas start off small and if you stick with it God will bless it," she reiterated.

In addition to the products made from the banana plant, the goods on display included locally made teas, wines, soaps, chocolate, leather handbags and sandals, candles, clothing, and a range of processed foods. Other than the JBDC's various incubators and Things Jamaican; exhibitors included the Trade Board; Jamaica Intellectual Property Office; Advanced Media Production — publishers of Julius J Levy's recipe for starting a small business; Appliance Traders Limited; the National Housing Trust; Jamaica National, and Scotiabank — the main sponsor.

Global Entrepreneurship Week is being observed from November 18-23 under the theme: Transforming Ideas into Real Business.


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