Having almost completed training sessions for the first batch of participants under its Project Amazon initiative, the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) is looking to extend the programme to other cohorts.
"Through our partnership with the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) and EXIM Bank, we would have expressed interest that this is one of the recurrent programmes that we want to have established in the organisation. Our president has already asked for us to re-engage the partners in order for us to have a second cohort. We're, therefore, hoping that at least like every six months, we can have the trainings reoccurring. DBJ at the launch had also expressed hope for the project to grow and become one of those long term initiatives," said JMEA Executive Director Kamesha Blake, responding to queries from the Jamaica Observer yesterday.
With the first cohort comprising approximately 17 participating companies now engaged in the final round of trainings around the topic of e-commerce insurance for Amazon sellers, Blake said an expansion of the programme will also be largely linked to its current level of success.
"Over the next four weeks we will begin to assess readiness and performance levels for our first cohort of participants and hopefully by January 2023, we can begin to re-engage the partners to commence training for a second cohort," she said to the Business Observer.
The companies currently enrolled in the first cohort includes: Home Choice, Spur Tree Spices, EggPress Farms, Jah Jireh Herbal, Blue Bantan Books, Ideas from Us, PearL Brands, Kande's Delight, NA Designs N More, Sankhard Company, T3J Organics, EasiSpice Manufacturers, HoneyVera, Eden's Lab, Real Botanics, Concept Promotions, and JBDC's Thing Jamaica.
JMEA President John Mahfood, participating in a Jamaica Observer Business Forum last week, said that having already started the project, the plan is to onboard more companies as the good news of e-commerce and selling online continues to take off.
"E-commerce is potentially a big opportunity for Jamaican companies, removing the need for people to travel just to shop. There is nothing stopping us from selling online, while some of our manufacturers may not be able to get into large stores such as Publix in the US, they are able to get on to Amazon, Walmart and other large retailers," he stated.
"What is good about the programme is that any company can partner directly with Amazon," Mahfood added.
The project, backed by funds from the EXIM bank and the DBJ, seeks to train local businesses in becoming top sellers on major online retail platforms, mainly Amazon.
The EXIM Bank, through the launch of its most recent product dubbed the e-commerce funder, has partnered with the JMEA to set aside over $100 million in loan funding to help businesses improve their digital footprint in the e-commerce space as they develop digital platforms to aid in increasing sales and marketing and to gain access to a wider global market. Under the facility, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) can access from as low as $1 million up to $5 million, with maximum financing for 80 per cent of project cost, with up to five years to repay.
Managing director of the EXIM Bank Lisa Bell said the product, which took form about two years ago during the outbreak of the pandemic, grew roots when a partnership commenced with Amazon experts, allowing them to help in training and equipping smaller companies, in order to make them more ready for the global marketplace.
"This evolution continued until we launched our e-commerce product which has as its sole focus, to help small enterprises get on to the global stage without having to go through a distributor or any other channel but by going straight to market," she said at the forum.