Let's capitalise on the PM's good deedMonday, August 09, 2021
Recently a young lady made a video in which she asked the prime minister for some money to start a bar. Well, Prime Minister (PM) Andrew Holness saw the video and recently delivered both a cheque and stock for the bar.
While that is a very good gesture from the PM, I would like to see follow-up checks being made in the next six months to see how the business is doing. I also think proper business training must be given to her. We must empower our people but at the same time we must train them to be self-sufficient. Use her as a success story.
In that vein, I suggest that either the Development Bank of Jamaica or some other State agency set aside $3 million per year for the next five years to assist people like that young lady to start small businesses as a pilot programme. There could be a cap of $300,000 per person to be accessed as grant funding. After that the programme can be reassessed to see if it is performing as intended.
One of the problems with accessing funds to start small businesses in Jamaica is the amount of bureaucracy and high rates of interest attached. Coming out of this pandemic it's my considered view that we must, as a matter of national urgency, do all we can to jump-start our economy and help create a thriving indigenous business class like we had back in the 60s. And this is one instance where an unwarranted criticism of the PM can be used to kick-start a good that could very well have positive spin-offs for the country.
Many people prefer to see the bad in practically everything and will undoubtedly start criticising the PM by saying that there are more worthy people in need of help. While I won't waste time ripping that sort of nonsense to shreds, I will say, precisely because of that type of argument, that this young lady is worthy of consideration.
This is not about giving a man — or woman — a fish so that he has no choice but to come back to beg for more, but rather providing each person with the tools to fish and training him or her to develop the skill. If you can get 50 people per year to start a business venture and even 35 of them succeed and gets bigger, I am of the view that that will be greatly beneficial to this country. We need a very entrepreneurial Jamaica if we are to ever get this country to a developed status.