JN stages pop-up mall to position micro and small businesses
As the country rises above a mist of more than two years of high inflation, Jamaica National Group will be staging a shopping experience aimed at helping to stimulate small and micro business activity during the usually busy Christmas season.
Set for the weekend of December 15 to 17, the JN Mall Pop-up Shopping Experience will bring shoppers close to 70 businesses in the JN Bank Chief Office parking lot to generate activity and opportunities for a variety of small and micro enterprises.
“This goes beyond just a great Christmas event. Although we’ve put the pandemic behind us, we really haven’t put all the pressures it placed on us behind just yet,” explained Saniah Spencer, marketing executive, JN Group.
“It’s been a tough couple of years for many businesses, especially for small businesses, and while some have found new opportunities and the economy has survived and has been picking up, many small businesses still aren’t where they were pre-pandemic. Therefore, as the high inflation environment recedes, we are providing our small businesses with a stimulus so that they can be positioned to take advantage of the improving economic conditions,” she said.
As it battled global post pandemic pressures, the Jamaican economy experienced an inflation rate high of 11.3 per cent (peaking March 2022, according to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica) during the 2021/2022 fiscal year, as it responded to mainly global phenomena, to include the war on Ukraine by Russia in February 2022 and global freight challenges resulting from extended COVID-19 lockdowns in China. The central bank, the Bank of Jamaica, intervened seven times in 2022, raising the policy interest rate to seven per cent as it sought to discourage borrowing and consequently consumption credit dependent goods and services to reduce inflation. The inflation numbers, particularly food, was also impacted by weather-related conditions, mainly drought and heavy rains in some instances, as well as fertliser and grain shortages caused by the war on Ukraine. The seven per cent policy interest rate by the BOJ has been sustained since December 2022.
With inflation down from 9.3 per cent last December to 5.1 per cent (October 2023) currently, Ms Spencer said there is reason for businesses to be more optimistic this season and encouraged consumers to be deliberate about patronising local small and micro businesses this holiday.
“The event is free to the public and will feature an immense array of enterprises, spanning fashion, food, small manufacturing, art and craft, among other vocations,” she said. “It’s going to be a true mall experience with lots to sample and various fun activities to participate in.”
Mostly online outfits, several of the businesses will be experiencing a store front for the first time.
“Although online provides reach and opportunity to engage with a wider audience, people still desire to touch and feel products, and we hope this event will encourage the business owners to strive to own their own physical spaces,” Spencer said.
She said, having pioneered the concept of microfinance in Jamaica more than two decades ago, through JN Small Business Loans at a time when the country was facing a financial crisis, Jamaica National’s commitment to the micro and small business sector is well known.
“We were lending to micro and small business entrepreneurs at a time when many in the traditional sector believed it was too risky to lend to them, and we’ve proven that it can be done and that it has been worth the risk,” she said, pointing out that JN has been able to create and sustain more than 200,000 jobs over the two decades as a result.
“So yes, JN has been the ‘mall’ in small businesses for a very long time, and we believe this initiative will further stimulate opportunities for some 70 businesses to enhance their customer base and consequently the success of their enterprise,” she underscored. “We are confident that this will lift several spirits this season- for small businesses and consumers alike.”