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2015, October 26 - A Boost for Small, Medium-Sized Manufacturers

BAS Bulletin – October 26, 2015
(Extracted from the Jamaica – October 26, 2015)

Continental Baking Company Foundation Staging ‘A Jamaican Made Christmas’ next month

A two-day expo designed to drive sales of Jamaican products and expose small and medium-sized manufacturers is being staged by Continental Baking Company Foundation late next month.

The event, named 'A Jamaican Made Christmas', is scheduled for November 29 and 30 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston.

"We have invited 50 manufacturers and artisans to exhibit their products in three categories -- Home, Kitchen and Lifestyle -- and we are fully subscribed," Tiffany Wong, who is in charge of special projects at Continental Baking Company, told the Jamaica Observer last Friday.

The event was conceptualised by Continental Baking Company's Chairman and Managing Director Gary 'Butch' Hendrickson, who said his aim was to help small and medium-sized businesses get exposure, sales, and eventually get to the stage of exporting their products overseas.

"I'm trying to get Jamaican manufacturing on the map, and the small and medium sectors represent a real opportunity for the country to grow," Hendrickson told the Observer.

"As a company we're trying to open our doors and our hearts to these small companies to tell them what we did, where we went wrong, it's kind of our give back," he said. "They don't need to make the same mistakes we did."

With approximately $62 billion in bonds maturing next February under the Jamaica Debt Exchange, Hendrickson expressed hope that small and medium-sized manufacturers will have an easier time accessing loans from commercial banks.

The exhibitors have been asked to pay a commitment fee, which will be refunded at the end of the expo.

"It's not our intention to have any of these folks have the expense of exhibiting, but I want a commitment," Hendrickson explained. "I find commitments, when backed by cash, are better than [those] backed by words.

"I don't want to say, 'you can have this space', and you don't show up and someone else loses the opportunity. You come, you exhibit for two days, and we draw that cheque right back to you," he added.

The majority of the businesses that have confirmed their participation have already paid the commitment fee.

The fee is waived for a few charities, such as Alpha Boys Home, Mustard Seed, the Jamaican Association on Intellectual Disabilities, and the Step Centre.

Although he hopes to stage the expo annually, Hendrickson is thinking of having it travel across the island.

His intention, he said, is to acquire a trailer that will give the exhibitors "an opportunity all year round to go to different locations throughout the country.

"It would be great to have that rolling showroom 12, 15 times a year," he said, adding that many times we want to purchase items, but we are unaware that they are being made by people here in Jamaica.

"Although we're a small country, so often we don't even know what other people are doing," he said.

"I really want these little companies to have a chance. I want them to come out of Christmas tired, because they worked so hard for December, and with some money in their pockets, and most of all, I want Jamaicans to buy Jamaican," Hendrickson stated.

He's hoping that people will use the expo to shop for Christmas and pointed out that admission will be free, and that all credit cards will be accepted.

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