Government ups support for SMEs
Originally posted on the Jamaica Observer - View original post
The Government of Jamaica on top of its already mounting support for the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SME) sector has announced plans to set up four regional workspace incubators to facilitate small business operations within areas outside of the country.
Floyd Green, state minister in the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), made these announcements yesterday at the PSOJ's: forum titled: Time for Growth — Unlocking the Power of the SME.
Among these pronouncements, the minister also outlined a list of other support that the Government is currently giving to the sector. Besides the drafting of an updated, SME policy in 2018 via a stakeholders approach, the ministry is making every effort to create an enabling environment for the group.
Green pointed out that as a measure to address previous complaints from small business owners of having to set up shop on their verandahs and not having enough space to work from, similar incubator spaces were set up locally from which these entrepreneurs could ply their trade. He pointed out that a workspace currently operating on Marcus Garvey Drive is already “tremendously oversubscribed”.
“We therefore call on a private sector partnership to work with the Government in pooling our resources to set up more spaces at low cost, so that these small businesses can continue to grow and expand”, he said.
Green spoke about the development of an online search platform coming out of his ministry and placed on the MICAF website which possesses a search tool through which SMEs can tune in and stay abreast of what is happening in the sector.
He said the website “gives information about bank offerings and current and competitive interest rates on loans, as well as allows persons to find out about the various agencies in government that can help with company development”.
It was along this line that he also commended the work of the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and asserted that Government should “expand the reach of the entity”. He pointed out that the JBDC so far has been helping a lot of businesses to transform ideas into solid business plans.
As it relates to access to capital, the minister commended the work of the EXIM Bank, and made it known that he has”urged the bank to work through the nuances of the SMEs and by extension, they are currently seeking to increase funds to $600 million but for now will start with $400 million to be unleaded into the SME sector.” Having said that, Green noted that “they will never have enough money to lend into business hence the banks are urged to come on board”.
Green then went on to make mention of more upcoming support to be given by the Government such as kiosk facilities at various tax offices across the island, as well as the introduction of a online registration with the Companies Office to reduce the hassle of which these companies complain.
He said that with this introduction which is slated to come on stream by the end of July “SMEs can now completely register their businesses online without having to go to the actual Companies Office”.
Donovan Wignall, president, MSME Alliance, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer, also alluded to the fact that the Government has been giving good support to the SME sector. “From the avenue of training and facilitation, capacity building, providing the knowledge that they need to grow and providing and SME policy, past and present governments have had initiatives that benefit SMEs,” he stated.