Gov't secures partnership to expand e-commerce opportunities for MSMEs

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Gov't secures partnership to expand e-commerce opportunities for MSMEs

Saturday, December 05, 2020

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THE Government has partnered with two international firms to deliver digital marketing solutions and e-commerce opportunities to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as a mechanism to cope with the impact of physical distancing and other restrictive measures due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The digitalisation programme is being spearheaded by the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce (MIIC), and was initiated as early as August 2019 through an arrangement with Kalou, a Google-affiliated small business online marketing solution. Since then, more than 1,000 MSMEs have created web pages and have increased their market visibility to customers locally and overseas. The Kalou arrangement allows merchants to create their own web page in less than five minutes at no cost and offers top placement in Google's search results in the Google Map section, free of cost to its clients. Persons transacting business with merchants who use the Kalou platform are required to make payment using PayPal.

Fygaro is the latest entrant to the programme and that relationship was cemented in October 2020. Fygaro is an e-commerce generator that provides options to assist MSMEs with basic e-commerce services, through the Jamaica Business Development Corporation, the National Commercial Bank and other members of the MSMEs ecosystem. The Fygaro partnership offers businesses the opportunity to create their own website, facilitate online stores, payment buttons, links for social media, WhatsApp, invoicing, order management, online accounting and logistics integration. Merchants operating via this platform will incur no setup cost but are required to pay a minimal monthly fee of US$15 for the integrated suite of services. Under the arrangement with the Government of Jamaica, merchants who sign up with Fygaro will benefit from a three-month free trial period.

Both platforms (Kolau and Fygaro) are being utilised to further the Government's goal of digitalising 25,000 MSMEs by 2022. Additionally, MSMEs are being trained in digital marketing and other capacity-building subject areas via webinars and YouTube live sessions in order to optimise their operation in the digital marketplace.

In recognising the importance of the digital space in business, particularly within an environment characterised by physical distancing and curfews, initiatives such as these are being pursued by Government to drive local businesses, increase market access, expand customer base and boost earning potential. This initiative is particularly relevant as businesses try to find creative ways of weathering the effects of the pandemic on the market. The programme is also consistent with the objectives of the MSME and Entrepreneurship Policy, 2018 to “internationationalise” small businesses in Jamaica and to increase their sales and exports of goods and services internationally.

Business owners wishing to take advantage of this opportunity can begin the process through the ministry's MSME web page at http://www.micaf.gov.jm/content/msme and on the website of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation at http://www.jbdc.net.


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