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2014, February 26 - PSOJ ramps up small biz support

BAS Bulletin – Feb. 26, 2014
(Extracted from the Gleaner dated Feb. 26, 2014)

Aiming at raising its profile as a champion of small as well as large business, the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ) on Tuesday announced that The MSME Alliance was its newest member.

The alliance is itself an association of business groupings, representing more than 300 in total.

PSOJ president, Chris Zacca, said its addition to the membership roll was the first step in a series of efforts by the PSOJ this year for more advocacy and support for small businesses in Jamaica.

The Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ) has been a member since the 1980s.

"We now have on board the two major small-business organisations, which we think is a significant feat," said Zacca.

"Small and medium-sized entities account for almost two thirds of job creation and contribute hugely to our GDP. Small businesses are therefore the key to sustainable and equitable economic growth and employment creation," he said at Tuesday's press briefing.

MSME Alliance president, Donovan Wignall, said the occasion was "a red-letter day" for his organisation, which he said is already engaged in training in corporate governance being run by the PSOJ this week.

The Alliance's most urgent concerns include inadequate skills training and the high rate of failure among MSMEs in Jamaica of 80-90 per cent of businesses created.

POLICY COORDINATION
The issues, said Wignall, demand policy coordination.

"We have a problem of lack of business literacy, poor corporate governance, an unacceptable failure rate for SMEs, and the need for more training and better knowledge," said Wignall.

Regarding the group's engagement with the PSOJ: "Our mission is to foster collaboration and engage in capacity-building programmes and non-partisan activities that will enhance global competitiveness for Jamaica," the MSME alliance president said.

Zacca said first on the agenda was to identify key issues affecting members of the small-business community, and indicated that the PSOJ would help to guide the small operators through the intricacies of tax reform.

PSOJ's mentorship programme is also now available to MSME Alliance members. The alliance is the 41st association to become a PSOJ member, according to CEO Dennis Chung.

Gaudia Chevannes-Aquart, who represented the SBAJ at the briefing, said her organisation has developed a COM4DEV software platform - a centralised hub of support information for MSMEs; IDB-financed Merit Accounting software which was a cloud-based and specifically designed for small business; and a National Innovation Hub/Incubator programme, among other initiatives, for the benefit of small operators.
Chevannes-Aquart said two new arms of the SBAJ were being established in Montego Bay and Mandeville to better reach the SME population outside of the capital.

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