JBDC wants greater public-private partnerships
Melissa Barrett (right), manager for business advisory services at the JBDC, listens as Valerie Veira, CEO of JBDC, makes a point at a business forum held at the Jamaica Observer's Beechwood Avenue address on July 27. Looking on from left is Harold Davis, deputy CEO of the JBDC. (Photo: Norman Thomas)

The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) is calling for increased public-private partnerships as it works to fulfil the mandate of delivering growth for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) locally.

Speaking at a Jamaica Observer Business Forum last week, manager of business advisory services at JBDC Melissa Barrett said that, despite having an extensive portfolio and a highly dynamic team comprising of over 100 members, there is always room for additional support, especially from the more resourced private sector.

The agency, through existing partnerships with entities such as Sagicor Bank, already provides free technical, business advisory, marketing, as well as research and project management services to small entrepreneurs, following the establishment of a business resource centre last year. The formation of the facility at the time was said to have marked the first public-private partnership arrangement of its kind.

"Jamaica has a lot of specialised individuals, whether its professional or industry experts, and they should seek to come and engage with us because we have clients coming in asking for specific services and we want to be able to refer them out. These clients are often in need of human resources, information technology, financial and other support services," Barrett said.

"We have different specialised persons in our database and we want to expand that to integrate them not only in service delivery for hand-holding and implementation but also in training. There are active players that are also thought leaders that have been continuously providing service and we want them to work with us and with the clientèle that we are supporting," she also stated.

Inviting more support for partnership Barnett said, "We're calling all partners on board, private and other non-governmental organisations, and we are also looking for students seeking to be interns with some of these businesses to also join the group and help to drive employment within the ecosystem for entrepreneurs."

JBDC, a 21-year-old government establishment which has been tasked to assist the growth and development of the country's MSME sector, offers a wide range of services via a growing network of resource centres, incubators, accelerator programmes, and hand-holding sessions through which it equips members of the sector with the requisite skill sets needed for growth.

The sector, which currently accounts for over 80 per cent of jobs in the country, a large portion of which are considered to be hinged on survivalist activities, remains at undesirable levels and still operating below its full potential in providing real growth for the economy. In light of this, the JBDC in its outlook for bringing further growth to the sector said that as it looks to start new partnerships and launch additional products and services; this is also being done in a manner that was in keeping with international best practices.

Now awaiting final certification after recently completing an ISO 9001:2015 Quality Management System (QMS) exercise, CEO Valerie Veira said the JBDC is now on track with fulfilling that objective.

"As an organisation, along with our clients, we have through the level of work done to date cemented our MSMEs. What we will however seek more of, as we go forward, is an increase in budgetary allocations along with increased resources, as there is so much more to be done," Veira said.

Kellaray Miles

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