The entrepreneurial spirit permeates every facet of Jamaican life. A testament to that is the rapid pace at which people invested in and listed properties on Air BnB with the Government’s partnership signed by Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, earlier this year. According to Jennifer Bailey, Founder and Course Developer of Operations for Entrepreneurs, at Babson College, a private business school in Wellesley, Massachusetts, “There are a growing number of entrepreneurs breaking through traditionally complex industries or creating their own niche industries and putting Jamaica on the map.
Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in the development of a country’s economy and is the key contributor to innovation and unemployment reduction. It can drive an economy and generate significant revenue for the government. The Jamaican Government recognises this and has launched many initiatives to create an environment that will foster the growth of new businesses. They see entrepreneurship as playing a vital role in job creation, wealth generation and forming the backbone for private sector growth and expansion. As such, the Government has placed entrepreneurship and (Medium, Small and Micro Enterprises) MSME development at the forefront of the country’s economic policy agenda.
Like anywhere else, Jamaican entrepreneurs face encumbrances in starting and growing small businesses. They lack adequate access to financing and marketing capacity. They also face issues with broad operational capacity, business leadership, communication and technical skills and are unfamiliar with available business support services. In order to dismantle some of the regulations limiting small business creation and growth, the Government has targeted the following areas for reform: tax payments, cross-border trading, contract enforcement, property registration and eliminating the red tape associated with starting a business. The sector requires policy intervention in the Government procurement framework for MSMEs. The idea is to create an environment that is more conducive to entrepreneurial activity.
In order to foster a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation, policies are being introduced that will incentivise lending from financial institutions at more conducive interest rates and as well as innovative financial products and services such as Mobile Money. Training and development are also essential to the sustainability of the MSME sector. The Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) will lead the process of training individuals, with support provided by other key entities such as the national training agency (HEART Trust/NTA).
In keeping with the economic development agenda, courses in entrepreneurship have been introduced at the Secondary School level. Programmes such as Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) of Jamaica and the Junior Achievement Company of Entrepreneurs (JACE) Secondary Early Entrepreneurial Development (SEED) programme are also Government supported initiatives. The latter programme, launched in April of this year, intends to stimulate students’ interest in starting their own business. According to Director of Regional Educational Services in the Ministry of Education, Youth & Information, Kasan Troupe, “students will actually be doing the application and examining the foundations of setting up a business and applying the skills”.
With Vision 2030 clear in sight and a growing economy, the Government of Jamaica has identified the need to develop an environment in which entrepreneurs can thrive. There is also a distinct need for skills development, market knowledge and accessibility in order for this inherent spirit in Jamaicans to grow and benefit our quality of life and the nation on a whole.