JBDC Business Dialogue Magazine Special

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10 JANINE TAYLOR ‘Nuff’ Things Jamaican

15 KEERA WALTERS The ‘Song Bird’

18 MELISSA BENNETT ‘Destiny’s Child’


The Near Doctor, Turned Designer



Helping Small Businesses To Grow

Ms. Valerie Veira, J.P. Chief Executive Officer

Design & Layout Dhaima Garrell – JBDC Visual Communications Unit

Mr. Harold Davis Dept. Chief Executive Office

Editor-In-Chief & Content Coordinator Suzette Campbell – JBDC Corporate Communications Unit

Photography Colin Porter – Technical Services Unit

Assistant Content Coordinator Sancia Campbell – JBDC Corporate Communications Unit

CEO’S MESSAGE I am proud to lead a team of more than 100 ‘highly committed, competent and motivated employees’, as posited in our mission statement. These men and women work tirelessly behind the scenes to deliver business development services to entrepreneurs, some of whom have walked this journey with me from inception 16 years ago. Over the years, we have created a culture of service by asking a simple, yet profound question: How Can We HELP You? Our HELP takes an entrepreneur along the journey ‘From Concept to Market’, a mantra to which we dedicate ourselves by providing a one-of-a-kind intervention through an unparalleled incubation system spanning research, product development, business planning, financing and market access. In this special edition of the Business Dialogue, you get a chance to meet a few of the hidden faces who have made it their mission to make an indelible mark on the lives of MSMEs (Micro, Small & Medium-sized Enterprises). You will be intrigued by their stories, which in some ways prepared them for an important appointment with destiny; like the daughter raised in the innercity by a single father, the one who played the role of cheerleader while 8 months pregnant, the ambitious young man from the country who worked as a gas station attendant to complete his university degree, the premature infant born in New York and the writer who wanted to be a journalist but fate had other plans. Their stories and experiences are diverse. But the one thing they all have in common is the tenacity to follow their dreams, which makes them prime candidates for working with our clients. They are no ordinary bunch and together they form the sum total of an incredible team who individually declare iHELP.

J.P, CEO, Jamaica Business Development Corporation

CONTRIBUTORS Suzette Campbell is a multi-award winning communications practitioner with 13 years’ experience spanning Public Relations, Journalism and Marketing in both public and private sector organizations. With a highly competitive spirit and creativity, she enjoys a good challenge and prides herself on leaving an indelible mark of success in her endeavours. Using her gift of writing, she hopes to win hearts and positively impact the lives of those on whose behalf she tells stories. Suzette is currently the Corporate Communications Manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation.

Sancia Campbell is a PR Practitioner in the business and hospitality sectors with over 13 years experience in marketing, publicity and communications. An excellent writer and avid lifestyle blogger, Sancia enjoys reading, project management and events planning. She is currently the PR & Events Coordinator at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC).

Andre Heslop is the Public Relations Assistant at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation. He is a graduate of the University Of Technology, Jamaica and holds a BBA in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. He has worked in a range of capacities within the marketing field from Marketing Officer to Customer Care Representative and has extensive experience with customer relations. Mr. Heslop is also a managing partner of the emerging Social U Consultants company, a social media marketing firm.

Kareena Daniels Beauty meets Design


areena Daniels is definitely one of the best dressed women at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). Even on a dress down day, Kareena manages to make casual look effortlessly stylish.

This meticulousness translates into her work as well. A master of everything artistic, Kareena is a foundation member of Team JBDC with notable work done in the areas of décor, product design and visual communications. An employee of the JBDC for approximately 10 years, Kareena has so proficiently managed her role as Senior Graphic Designer / Team Coordinator of the Visual Communications Unit that she is now the team lead with responsibility for overseeing the day-to-day running of the Unit including supervision of the team, creation of designs, creative concepts and layouts. For her, diversity is important and her interaction with clients from different sectors provides added excitement and distinguishes one day from the next. “I look forward to bringing the client’s ideas and products to life. I get an utter sense of fulfilment when the branding and packaging solutions I suggest for their product is accepted and enters the local market. There is a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment when our creative and visual concepts come together. What we get at the end of the day are ideas that inspire, inform and boost their business growth,” she shares. Added to her routine day-to-day activities is another equally important role; mother to 14 year old daughter, Ari. Everyone who is acquainted with Kareena or ‘Reena’ as she is affectionately called by her co-workers will know Ari, as she has been a constant with her Mom in the office since she was a toddler. It is also not uncommon to see them together when Kareena works overtime whether during the week or on the weekend. And when they have free time; which is rare, the two enjoy doing ‘girly’ activities such as window shopping, watching food, hair & makeup videos on the internet, and going to the movies and the beach. Kareena has also developed a great relationship with her team; both immediate and extended. This they say is because of her personality. Immediate team member, Roxanne Richardson describes Kareena as a ‘fun-loving’ person. “She is always trying to lighten the air for everyone and she does this without being overbearing or abrasive. She is also very professional,” Roxanne stated. This Passionate creative is a graduate of the St. Catherine High School and the holder of a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts. Not surprisingly too, Kareena is a certified Cosmetologist and Nail Technologist, both of which is glaringly evident as she moves through the office on a daily basis. #iHELP.




Whether it’s grater, blue draws, or rum, finding it with Yello is a piece of cake.


We Know Jamaica.

Lisa Taylor-Stone Solid as a ‘Trench Town Rock’

paid half of the school fee, I had no text books and most days I had no lunch,” said Lisa. Her guardian angel would come at the end of first form following two events. In the first, a teacher overheard her jokingly telling her peers that she went without lunch most days and the second saw her receiving a letter that her space was in jeopardy for an outstanding balance on the school fee. “I went home and read the letter for him, and he stormed to the principal’s office to complain that they wanted to throw me out. But the principal was so graceful and understanding, she managed to calm him. A few weeks later, we got a call that I had a sponsor for a full scholarship as long as I maintained a high standard,” she said.


t was an overwhelmed Robert Taylor who shed tears upon hearing the news that his daughter Lisa had passed the Common Entrance Examinations with flying colours and was placed at the Alpha Academy. Mr. Taylor, a single parent, had been raising her on his own for most of her life in the innercity community of Trench Town in Kingston, doing unconventional tasks like combing her hair, much to the amusement of her peers at the Jones Town Primary School. “Whenever he combed my hair, the children at school would laugh and say, is your father comb your hair, don’t?” said a chuckling Lisa Taylor-Stone, Project Management and Research Manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC). Times were hard, but Lisa was humbled by the fact that her father worked hard and had big dreams for his little girl. “I was at risk just living in Trench Town, so it was a do or die situation. When I brought home the booklists, my father would choose the most important ones and buy only those, because that’s all he could afford. So when the reality hit that I was going to high school, his tears were not joy, but sorrow. He was sad because he knew he couldn’t pay the school fee,” Lisa explained. Still, the life she had experienced up to that point was all she knew and she was about to be exposed to a whole new world. “I didn’t realize I was poor until I reached Alpha and saw how the other girls looked and the vehicles that took them to school. My father

She did not disappoint, as five years later she had amassed 10 CSEC passes on her way to sixth form and later the University of the West Indies to pursue a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology, minoring in Demography and Psychology. In those three years, Lisa would get lunch from friends, research gigs from lecturers and an academic scholarship, culminating in her graduating with First Class Honours and making history as the first family member to graduate from University. By this time, it was evident that Lisa had perfected the art of making winning proposals in a bid to overcome challenges. But little did she imagine that she would make a career of it, as research was the farthest thing on her radar, despite UWI lecturers pointing out that she had a knack for it. Jobless with a first class honours degree and a pile of rejection letters from organizations, her frustration grew and she made a bold move in writing to her Member of Parliament, berating the fact that as a daughter of the inncercity she was told that education was the way out, yet no one seemed to want to hire her. “In my letter to him, I demanded that he either finds me a job or gets me a scholarship to a Master of Science Degree. To my surprise, he called two days later and asked which option was my first, and I told him that if I got a job, I could see myself through a post graduate degree,” she recalls. A few days later, she began to receive calls for interviews and began to write her impressive resume which spans the Student’s Loan Bureau, the Jamaica National Building Society, the Jamaica Employer’s Federation, the United States Agency




for International Development’s (USAID) World Learning Project, and currently the JBDC. The daughter of Trench Town also gives back to society through a night school she operates for persons who did not graduate high school with subjects. Among her many success stories is a former household helper who now holds five CSEC subjects and works as an Administrative Assistant. One could say that the research and project management dynamo must have fulfilled a date with destiny in joining the JBDC in 2013, as her passion for the Micro, Small & MediumSized Enterprise (MSME) sector precedes her employment at the organization. She ventured into private practice forming Silver Stone & Platt Research Solutions Limited and wrote a book entitled 2009 Compensation & Benefits Survey for MSMEs. “I prayed and the Lord said I should invite then Prime Minister, the Most Honourable Bruce Golding to the book launch. It was an emotional event for my family when we actually saw him arrive. We had no money. We knew nobody to pull strings for us. But here in our midst was the Prime Minister endorsing my work, and so we cried,” Lisa added. During her time at the World Learning Project, she traveled the Caribbean conducting workshops, unearthing hidden potential and developing her teaching skills. Since joining the JBDC in 2013, Lisa’s department (Project Management & Research) has implemented several initiatives and successfully managed major projects. Among the most impactful programmes is the Tapping into Donor Funds Proposal Writing Workshop™ implemented in 2013 and to date has seen participants accessing J$127 million in grant funding. In November 2016, the Workshop was staged overseas for the first time in St. Lucia. Lisa’s vision for the MSME sector is to see heightened innovation and commercialization. “I want to see our MSMEs taking business to the next level by using research a lot more. Research drives innovation and there are critical things which can only be revealed through data. Training is also significant. I get an overwhelming sense of pride just seeing the joy when they feel the money, taste the money, touch the money! $127 million feels awesome!” #iHELP.

Ricardo Edwards A Passion for Research


icardo Edwards is by no means as unassuming as he seems. In fact, beneath his humble exterior lies a man brilliant beyond his years. He has defied many odds and now sits on the verge of the pinnacle of his profession buoyed by his determination to succeed.

The holder of a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science and Master’s Degree in Sociology discloses that from he was aware of himself; he wanted to do two things; “Help people and work in the Public Service”. In his own words; Ricardo reveals that his passion for the country is two-fold; “I am very concerned about inequality in the society as well as the lack of quality educational opportunities for the not so well off among us,” he stated. These social issues are what he believes have contributed to continuously rising crime and inequity in the country. His next major study he discloses will be in both subject areas and will lead him into his ultimate goal of completing his Doctoral Degree. But before all of this, Ricardo was just a simple youth from Glengoffe, St. Catherine. The eighth child for his father and second for his mother, his was a typical childhood. School, play and a little mischief here and there, Ricardo largely remained a disciplined child. From Monconcord Basic he attended Grateful Hill Primary, Oberlin High and Excelsior Community College. Not one to be idle, Ricardo made himself useful within the family as well. While growing up, he served in the family shop and took care of the chickens and pigs on the farm on a daily basis. The challenges of life would set in once he began as a student at the University of the West Indies. In order to meet his financial needs, Ricardo would work as a Pump Attendant at Cotterel’s Texaco and Bag checker at the University’s Library during the semester while during the summer break, he would assume the post of ‘Grill Man’ at StakeNShake, a restaurant based in the United States. Still, he was not deterred. It was during his undergraduate studies on campus that his passion for Research would be realized. “I recall during my first year at UWI, my group and I were given a one year project to research a particular topic and the work from it really consumed me, so much so that even when we lost a member of the group, I didn’t mind,” he stated. That year, Ricardo’s grade was among the top five. The one-year research experience was so enlightening for Ricardo, that he opted to take all the possible statistics and research undergraduate courses offered in the Faculty of Social Sciences courses as electives, something that not many students did. He also landed a job as an intern with Professor Ian Boxhill, the famed Election Pollster during Jamaica’s 2011 General Elections.



Today, Ricardo is the Senior Project Officer for Data Analysis in the Project Management & Development Unit at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation. His role includes conducting research on the MSME sector through the coordination of field work, training interviewers, analyzing data and writing reports. He also plays a big role in the Unit’s ground breaking Research Coaching for HR and Middle Level Managers. Fulfilling his life-long dream of doing research and helping others to do research, Ricardo now shows MSMEs how to develop a working understanding of research methods and techniques through workshop and training sessions. According to Ricardo, “… discovering critical and game changing information through the statistical analysis of big data sets is another fun part of my job although such discovery does not come along every day,” he commented. And although he has only been with the Corporation for just over a year and a half, already Ricardo can report achievements. “One of my major goals upon joining the company was to make the JBDC brand synonymous with the production of statistics, particularly on the MSME sector. In order to serve the sector adequately with business development services, we need to first know all there is to be known about the sector,” he stated. He however admits that this is an easy task as it requires implementation of processes and structures but more importantly cultural changes in the organization towards record keeping and capacity building initiatives. According to Ricardo, while the goal has not yet been fully realized, there are still significant milestones to highlight. Chief among them is the completion of the ‘Strategy to Growth JBDC’s Research Consultancy portfolio which will serve as a strategic framework to achieve the overall goal. Among his other accomplishments are the development and implementation of a research agenda, implementation of a standard form for clients interested in using JBDC’s research services to document their needs, procurement of the latest quantitative data collection and analysis software and the completion of several research reports on the MSME sector including the Mobile Money Service report and the National MSME Needs Assessment Survey report. #iHELP.


Phase 3 Ad

Janine Taylor

‘Nuff’ Things Jamaican


marketer who decides to pursue a Masters in Poverty Alleviation with a focus on Development Management is planning to do more than the conventional selling to make money. Janine Taylor, Marketing Services Manager at JBDC wants to sell Brand Jamaica so that local producers can make a living.

The St. Hugh’s High School old girl grew up in Linstead, St. Catherine with her grandmother, a school principal. “When I started to study subjects like Accounting and Principles of Business, I knew it was my forte. I liked the idea of seeing how money was made; particularly all the facets that went into it,” she said. A summer job at Grace Kennedy Export Trading during Sixth Form turned into a five-year stint with the company. “That was my major training ground as I received extensive exposure filling positions wherever there was a need in various departments for the first two years – Secretary, Administrative Assistant, and Documentation Clerk until I was placed on an ISO Certification Project for another two years. And there I got a sense of the importance of structure in a business. Following the completion, I was appointed Administrative Assistant to the General Manager, who had a strong marketing background,” she explained. By then, Janine had enrolled as a Business Administration student at the University of Technology. “In preparing his documents, I was exposed to the fascinating world of branding and marketing a big brand. I decided to major in Marketing,” she explained. On leaving the nest that was her first job, little did the budding marketer know that she was about to launch a career centred on ‘things’. She moved on to a small organization called ‘Nuff Things’, a distributor of major music labels, records and books about the music industry. “It was there that I became indoctrinated in the importance of Jamaican culture,” she said. With a degree in hand, Janine was on the move again and found herself on a side of marketing that she would not particularly enjoy; sales. “I thought sales was it - where the money meets the road. But after two years of trying to convince people to buy things, I decided it wasn’t for me. It was too upfront and not consistent with my personality. So I decided to look into the deeper side which dealt with branding, advertising and planning, which would allow me to work in the background,” she said. More ‘things’ were on the horizon, as in 2001, a job offer came up from the JBDC that had just acquired Things Jamaican™, a retail store chain of authentic locally made products. With the added qualification of a Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management, she was well



primed. “That Diploma was because of my previous experience with our culture and my belief that it had immense potential to be sold globally. I came in as a Marketing Assistant and it introduced me to the retail world. I got a chance to see the products being made and developed an appreciation of what goes into making local products and it’s been a love affair since,” she added. Marketing at Things Jamaican™ gave her the opportunity to engage in all facets of the discipline. “You get into a job that is dealing with the creative industries, where you are seeing products being made that you would go into your supermarket and walk pass every day, not recognizing what a purchase of that product could mean for your economy. It was an eye opening experience that deepened when I started working with the clients and saw what little they were using to make much,” she explained. Sixteen years later, boredom has not set in. “I’ve heard persons say how long is a good time to be in a job but I can’t relate to it. Every day I come to work it’s like a different job because it has evolved significantly since we started,” she said. In perfecting her craft, she also studied Finance and Accounting to ensure that her efforts on the job would translate into economic benefits for entrepreneurs. This also led to her having deeper thoughts about how a Masters Degree would benefit her clients. ”I thought about Brand Jamaica and economic development, the people, their livelihoods and how many lives we were impacting by selling products. I started to get a calling towards development studies and so I looked at the Masters in Poverty Alleviation. It was a drastic shift but I couldn’t put it down. When I did the first module, it clicked – everything I had done had prepared me for this,” she added. Her current mission – “helping each business to put their products out there in such a way that it results in development, that people can learn, live and convert their creative gifts into a livelihood without thinking they have to work for somebody,” she said. Her ultimate dream is to see the Things Jamaican™ store in major airports globally selling Brand Jamaica. #iHELP.


Vivette McFarlane ‘My Jamaican Girl’


ne could decipher this country girl’s love for all ‘things Jamaican’ just by the very food she enjoys most, which includes the national dish – ackee & saltfish, curried chicken, as well as cashew nuts, custard apple and sweet sop, fruits that may not top the list of favourites for many. Raised in the peaceful community of Jeffrey Town in St. Mary, Vivette McFarlane gets excited whenever she meets anyone who hails from that parish as she greets them with a warmth and engaging smile befitting her roots. Born between two brothers and the 5th of 8 children, she was constantly surrounded by warmth which she exudes in her professional life as the Assistant Manager for the JBDC’s Marketing Services Unit which manages the Things Jamaican™ chain of stores. “While growing up, I would venerate my mother who was a school principal and wanted to become a teacher. However, as I matured I realize I would ultimately want to do some form of social work with a missions focus,” Vivette pointed out. Her mission at JBDC for the past 16 years: to assist producers of authentic Jamaican products with that critical transition into the marketplace through market access services. A rewarding mission it has been as she revels in interfacing with diverse personalities (internally and externally) and helping others to attain their objectives, purpose and realize their dream. “I believe my greatest attributes include my willingness to assist other persons in any way I can as well as my resourcefulness. Whenever I refer a client to another institution for additional assistance outside of my scope, there is at times a long lead time before the client is contacted. I would invariably follow up with the institution and the officer in charge to have the matter resolved expeditiously,” she added. Her ascension to her current office saw her seeking academic mastery at some of Jamaica’s most notable institutions including Excelsior Community College, College of Agriculture, Science and Technology (now University of Technology) and University of West Indies, Mona Campus. Outside the walls of the JBDC, Vivette dedicates her time to family and her Christian faith. “Yes, I am a Christian. I made that important decision based on a message that was preached by the Rev. Everard Allen of the Brown’s Town Baptist Church entitled ‘There is a world war going on over your soul, who will you allow to win the war - God or the devil?’ I chose God because He alone can give life,” she said. It’s no wonder that she chose to name her son, Samuel. What’s the best part about being a mother? “Enjoying our special moments; I’m all about family and spending quality time, so our frequent pillows fights and moments like those really make my days,” she said. Vivette also enjoys gardening, cooking and reading novels, therapeutic activities which keep her grounded as she contemplates her life’s goal: “to make a difference in the lives of everyone I cross paths with; helping others is what I do best.” #iHELP.




Helen Watt

An international Eye for Quality


elen Watt has been the Marketing Officer for Things Jamaican™, the Marketing Services arm of the JBDC for more than 12 years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. Born a premature infant in Brooklyn, New York, Helen learned how to weather storms at an early age.

Brought to Jamaica at the tender age of one year and six months, she lived with her parents and 3 siblings in Coopers Hill, St. Andrew and matriculated through the Jamaican education system. Helen’s mother enrolled her at St. Richard’s Primary, a Catholic school that emphasised discipline. Thereafter she went to Immaculate Conception High School, another Catholic school with the same emphasis where she boarded throughout her tenure and became heavily involved in school activities playing tennis and swimming competitively. Helen returned to the United States and pursued further studies at The City University of New York – Baruch College in Manhattan and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing Management with a minor in Public Relations. At this juncture, Dr. Victor Watt, swept her off her feet, married her and they were off to the California sunset. After 5 years, they moved to Dallas, Texas to advance their careers and be closer to family. In 2003, Helen returned to Jamaica and became a naturalized Jamaican Citizen. Helen came to the JBDC with a wealth of knowledge which has been accumulated over a long and diverse career in the retail business. She worked for reputable internationally recognized companies and chain stores in the US including: Mercantile Stores – Senior Assistant Buyer, County Seat Stores – Distributor, Weinstocks now Macy’s – Area Sales Manager, JC Penney –Distributor & Inventory Planner, Neiman Marcus – Inventory Planner. Although having never tried her hand at entrepreneurship, her retail experience in the overseas and local market have manifested in her current role when screening and buying from local suppliers. Asked why she has remained at Things Jamaican™, Helen’s response was “working with the clients has been an interesting and exciting experience because although I’ve been in the industry for many years, it is the first time I get to influence and interact directly with the creator of the products.” Helen has experienced much success throughout her time at JBDC. Through her intervention, many entrepreneurs in the manufacturing sector have grown. She identifies two of her clients that readily stand-out, one of whom is Trecia Campbell of Tricam Processors. After screening Trisha’s sauces, Helen left her with an unease that prompted Trecia to look at her offering more closely, resulting in it becoming a recognizable brand that can be found in local and international markets. Similarly, Samantha Fung, a stay-at-home mom trying her hand at gourmet jams, was able to increase her earnings threefold after implementing changes suggested by Helen using her years of experience and international eye for quality. Sammi’s Gourmet Treats have since moved to the next level and can be found on shelves locally and internationally. Helen has made it her mission to assist entrepreneurs using every means at her disposal to get them from home to the shelves and across borders. “Stay true to yourself and your product, invest in research and try to be on top of trends in the area relevant to your business” - Helen Watt. #iHELP.




Althea West-Myers

A Passion for Developing People


Continuing, she pointed out that entrepreneurs need to break the rules, take risks and become more growth-oriented. “It is important to protect your idea. However, be sure to demonstrate that you are growth-oriented at the same time,” she added.

he smile on her face, the sparkle in her eyes and the enthusiasm in her voice, signalled Althea West-Myers’ love for her job as Business Advisory Services Manager at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation JBDC). “Entrepreneurship and Business Development are my passion and I have not been able to leave for the past ten years. I feel like I have a mandate to equip entrepreneurs,” she said.

One of Althea’s key strategies has been the development of assessment tools and systems to decipher whether a business is doing well. “I’ve created a graduating system of development called the Business Monitoring Programme in which entrepreneurs move through a tiered system; 1, 2 and 3. And we have development programmes that are designed for each of those tiers. Basically, we take them on a journey through nursery to incubator to accelerator. This allows us to have a scientific basis for the advice that we give. For example, when clients come in, the first thing we do is an assessment to see the gasps which exist in the business and those gaps help us to determine where they need help. Following that, ongoing assessment is critical to tracking the client’s progress as well as, our impact,” she said.

One could say, she stumbled across this passion. Writing was her first love so Althea saw herself as a journalist or a lawyer, but destiny had a date with her and was determined to lead her there. “I never realized I had an interest in business. I had finished my first degree in psychology and grown an interest in human resource development. While working at JPS (Jamaica Public Service Company Ltd.), I accompanied a friend of mine to register for a Master’s programme at UWI (University of the West Indies) and I enquired about the MSc in Human Resource Development. However, that programme was closed and they advised me to pursue the MBA instead,” she said.

The Passion Armed with a Master’s in Business Administration, Althea had her sights set on leaving her job to form her own company focusing on organizational development. However, she responded to an advertisement for a Business Development Officer at JBDC and was offered the Manager’s position, and thus begun her journey as a business development expert. Althea knew she had to learn this discipline quickly, so she took advantage of every opportunity to develop her business development skills by constantly researching markets, as well as attending global conferences in countries like the United States of America and India, and so on. As such, she explained that benchmarking became her modus operandi, comparing whatever was being done in Jamaica to what was happening overseas. “Knowing has always been my competitive advantage. I tend to know more than the average person in whatever I’m involved in because I’m always studying and researching. The more I learned, the more I applied, and the more relevant JBDC’S services became. I recognized that thought leadership was critical and once I got into that habit, I knew we could lead the sector in things like the entrepreneurial mindset;

tend to be more savvy, entrepreneurial and less attached to the business. Investors are more attracted to dispassionate entrepreneurs; meaning you are passionate about the venture but you can disengage when the time comes. The Tech ones tend to be serial entrepreneurs who create, sell and move on, which is what investors want,” she said.

the difference between entrepreneurship and self-employment, incubators, clustering, and so on. JBDC led those conversations in the early years,” she said. As the JBDC grew, so did Althea. “As I immersed myself into the role, I thought…wait! But, this is my passion! I knew I loved training and development and this was allowing me to do it, but I never knew I’d love entrepreneurship and business development as much as I do now. I can’t leave it. This is who I am. I eat, sleep and breathe capacity development. I like to see people grow. I have found that entrepreneurship has been the outlet to achieving my desire to develop people,” she added.

Growing Minds Althea believes that one of the main pillars of entrepreneurial success is the individual behind the business. “When people ask me about the reason for business failure, I tell them more often than not it is the person behind it. Therefore, we are very invested in developing the entrepreneurs themselves and helping them to inculcate as a part of their being in the entrepreneurial mindset. For example, Tech entrepreneurs



Clients will spend approximately 18 – 24 months in the early stages of incubation until they are deemed fit to operate on their own. JBDC recently announced the final tier of that incubation system, dubbed the Accelerator Programme which is a six-month programme of accelerated growth for high growth potential entrepreneurial ventures. In order to qualify for enrollment, entrepreneurs must meet stipulated criteria such as a growing market base, market competitiveness, export potential and entrepreneurial aptitude. “We will accelerate their growth through market development and access to financing,” she explained.

Twinning Two Loves While she did not pursue a career in journalism, Althea’s pen has not gone dry. Asked whether a book is on the horizon, she responded “I dropped my dream to become a Journalist, but I love my job with a passion! Everything I have done has prepared me for where I am today; psychology, human resources, etc. I love to write. I love personal development and entrepreneurship so a book is a must! Actually, the first part of my book focuses on the entrepreneurial mindset.” #iHELP.


Keera Walters The ‘Song Bird’


n December 2008 when Keera Walters (then Williams) took to the stage at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation’s (JBDC) Christmas staff party, many might have mistaken her for international reggae singer, Etana.

As she belted out hits from the reggae artiste’s catalogue such as Roots, Warrior Love and I am not afraid, Keera’s vocals mirrored those of the reggae star. In the process, Keera not only wowed her co-workers of a little over a year but showcased one of the many talents for which she has become known. Over the years, Keera has continued to sing at staff events, albeit not as much as before, but her focus has shifted to another love; people development. Reveling in this new passion, Keera admits that she enjoys seeing the development of people from one level to the next both in their personal and professional lives. “Coaching and training is something that I love and my greatest pleasure is seeing both my clients and my team members making progress in their passions,” she shared. Describing herself as an independent, unpretentious rebel, Keera has for the past 10 years, used her capacities, previously as Business Development Officer and now as Assistant Business Advisory Services Manager at JBDC, to extend her love for coaching to managing client relationships, developing capacity plans for MSMEs, coaching both MSMEs and team members and managing project implementation. The holder of a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and a Diploma in Counselling is a very deep thinker who is guided by the philosophy that as people, we are all connected. “Our ultimate purpose is to live lives that meaningfully impact each other no matter how far removed the ‘others’ are,” she stated. Of course, she is also inspired and excited by the success of her clients. “I love when a consultation or series of interventions with a client achieves an ah-ha moment… this proves that I am providing the right type of guidance and that the client is not only listening during our sessions but that they are also adopting the recommendations to achieve business success,” she asserted. The smart and eloquent philosopher; another description she has coined for her personality; is also an admirer of people who live their own version of success. “I am attracted to independent thinkers and people who are genuine and passionate,” she disclosed. This, she affirmed is what attracted her to one of the world’s most powerful women, Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey, she says is a sustainable capitalist. “Though she is wildly successful she’s also a sincere philanthropist, with a conscience.” As someone who also believes in self-affirmation, Keera revealed that her favourite quote is ‘Woman know thyself ’; this, she says is important because once the journey of self-knowledge begins, we will recognize ourselves in others. #iHELP.




Terry-Ann Clahar- Weir ‘A Cinderella Story’


ard work comes naturally for Terry-Ann Clahar-Weir, JBDC’s Business Development Officer for the office in Manchester with responsibility for South Central Jamaica which includes the parishes of Clarendon, Manchester and St. Elizabeth.

‘Cinderella’, as she was known to persons in her community, did not always reside in the cool town of Mandeville, but was raised in the sweltering inner-cities of Kingston. Her family, which comprised of her mother and two younger brothers, navigated the communities of Grants Pen and Trench Town to survive. With her mother working two jobs, she was always indoors cleaning and getting things prepared for her younger siblings (hence the nickname Cinderella). “I didn’t have the luxury like my friends to go to the mall on Saturdays or take trips to Disney Land in the summer. I worked every summer since 9th grade to help offset the expenses for back-to-school,” Terry-Ann shared. She then made it her mission to excel at anything she does and to constantly develop herself. A proud Merl Grove High School past student, and a past President of the school’s Floral Arrangement Club, Terry-Ann began to explore her creative side so much so that she pursued a degree in Arts Management and Humanities at Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts. Exploring her creative and playful nature through dance and drama, she quickly realized that dancing was not her strong suit. A teacher at heart, Terry-Ann enjoyed ‘playing school’ as a child. “I would beat the trees, who were my students because they were not doing their homework. As a Business Development Officer I still get an opportunity to teach and to use my creativity but in a different way through the advice and assistance I offer to my clients and just about anyone I consult with,” Terry-Ann explained. Teasea Bennett - Reve Jewellery, Garry Parrish - Gary’s Concept, Lacey-Ann Bartley of Bartley’s All-In-Wood and Melissa Preddie – Aviola Accessories, are just some of the clients that Terry-Ann has assisted ‘From Concept to Market’ and are now internationally recognized. When she’s not hard at work consulting with entrepreneurs or planning and decorating events, you can find ‘Cinderella’ relaxing by entertaining at home, preparing her famous dish of curried goat and white rice with a glass of wine or travelling to Kingston to link up with her girlfriends, to catch up on old times and the latest happenings. #iHELP.




Melissa Bennett ‘Destiny’s Child’


he diminutive office live wire fought back tears as she recounted a life altering experience which moved her to do the unthinkable - take a pay cut to realize her dream to design strategies to enable entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. It was a date with destiny in 2013 and a leap of faith which eventually paid off when she was promoted from Senior Business Development Officer to Manager of the new Financial Support Services Unit at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation in 2015. The former Head Girl of St. Catherine High School hails from the rural community of Mount Pleasant, St. Catherine, where she lived with her grandmother ‘Miss Darling’ until age 13 when she left to live with her mother and stepfather. “My mom was a teacher at St. Catherine High while I was there and she taught me in Grade 10 which made me feel a little bit ‘cute’ and I was also mocked as the ‘teacher’s pet’. I felt pressured to do well,” Melissa said. Melissa developed a passion for service and engaged in extra-curricular activities of that nature and ascended to the Key Club President position in Sixth Form. “I benefited from an excellent foundation which allowed me to develop lasting friendships, give back to the community and inspire others. I met girls in Grade 7 who are still my friends today. However, most of them are living overseas. I’m perhaps the only one here; nothing against them, but I am very nationalistic and patriotic in how I view myself and the contribution I can make to my country,” she added. On the advice of her mother, Melissa decided to focus on business subjects, though admitting it wasn’t her first love. “In Grade 9, I liked Physics a lot and wanted to do the sciences. But my mother pointed out that there might be more career opportunities in business. I ended up liking it. But I also loved History, which was taught by my favourite teacher Errol Martin and Sociology taught by my mom’s best friend to this day, Mrs. PalmerAllen,” she said. Flash forward three years later and Melissa leaves the University of the West Indies armed with a Bachelor of Science double major in Accounts and Management Studies. While there, she continued her drive to give back to the community as a member of Circle K. “I started working at Scotiabank a week after final exams. I had plans to grow from my position as a Teller but that didn’t work, as I had a bad encounter with a customer who nearly attacked me. I was brought to tears in front of the entire bank,” she said as she burst into laughter. On the hunt again, Melissa called past acquaintances. “I had received a call from PriceWaterhouse Coopers prior to joining the bank and I remember the HR Manager telling me I’d have to do ACCA and I said ‘no, I just finished school.’ But it was poor research on my part, because that’s required in auditing firms. So they didn’t call me back,” she said. However, that would not be the last they had seen of Melissa. “An old acquaintance told me there was an opening in the Strategy Department at PriceWaterhouse Coopers for someone who is good with numbers. I learned a lot there and eventually I settled down to what I really wanted to do. It was

So she decided to pitch for a unit which would focus on strategy and finance for small businesses but was unsuccessful. Undaunted, her yearning to help small businesses grew stronger. “As you know, small businesses drive the economy and I wanted to be part of that drive to change these entities. One day, my friends told me that there’s a job in the paper that looks perfect for me – Senior Business Development Officer at JBDC. When I saw it, I was like, ‘Yes! This is it! They can’t tell me no!’ and I decided to apply,” she said. Although confident with 11 years’ experience in an international organization, Melissa was nervous. “Following the interview, the HR Manager called and said you’re our first choice but we cannot pay what you asked. When she told me the figure, I was stumped. I didn’t know what to do so I told her I’d sleep on it. I didn’t tell anyone the salary; just that it was lower. So, I spoke to God. I asked him why he’s doing this to me and he said, ‘What did you ask me?’ And I remember clearly saying that if this job is for me, let them offer it and I snapped and said ‘So I had to be specific? Why couldn’t it just be a bigger salary?’ But I said, I’m pursuing passion and I’m gonna survive,” she added. And that she did. “My partner and I tried various ventures and we failed and got up again. Those experiences helped me to understand the plight of the small business owner; to fail financially, strategically, in every way and to still get up and move forward because you believe in what you’re doing,” she said. Melissa reported for duty at JBDC in February 2013 and was impressed with the strategic work of Business Advisory Services Manager – Althea West Myers, who she reported to and had a close relationship with. “We developed several strategy tools for small businesses and I became increasingly enthusiastic,” she added.

Finance. And so I pushed for a transfer. However, my boss recommended that I do a Masters degree in Business Administration instead of the CFA (Certified Financial Analyst),” she said. Melissa was accepted for the MBA at UWI and soon discovered an overwhelming passion for business. “I was also in a relationship where my partner was very entrepreneurial and so I was a practicing partner, learning from the MBA programme and getting structured experience supporting corporations. I think the melding of strategy and finance started in my mind at that time. I had started working in the Finance department, was looking at valuations and I found it very interesting. I felt that with this training and my experience, I could help entrepreneurs to move their business value by changing strategies,” she added. Around that time, Melissa went through a traumatic experience with the first of her three daughters, Tianna, who was born in 2010 with two holes in her heart. “I asked why me and I prayed. By God’s grace and a referral from Dr. Charmaine Scott, she was given an opportunity to go overseas to do surgery funded by the Rotary Club’s Chain of Life. I stayed with Rotarian, Ruth Nubair, an entrepreneur, who made it her life’s mission to help persons in need from developing countries. She was also active in other organizations. Yet, she found the time to be with me 24/7. That experience underscored the value of giving back. I was impassioned to grow after my MBA, perhaps as a partner in the company, but then I started to evaluate life and my contribution. ‘Is it going to be about me or will it be about what I do and how I change society?’” said a tearful Melissa.



With an unyielding zeal to pursue her passion, an enquiring Melissa discovered that a Financial Support Services Unit would soon be formed. She took a bold step in approaching the CEO, Valerie Veira with a proposition to lead the Unit. “This happened at a time when I was considering seeking employment elsewhere because things had gotten really tough financially and the family was growing. I was thinking maybe it wouldn’t be here that I’d make that contribution. But then the ad came out for the Manager of FSSU and I applied. During the interview, I presented my plan for the department and told them that I believe this is why I was sent here. It also meant I’d get an increase in salary and finally, it would be ok,” she said. Since taking the reins, she has been busy facilitating day-to-day consultations and implementing initiatives to educate MSMSEs, including the Tax Compliance Workshop, Lean Start-Up Workshop and the Raising Capital event which brings MSMSEs face-to-face with industry movers and shakers demystifying various facets of financing. Melissa’s dream for the Unit: “I want to see the financial literacy gap closed, to see entrepreneurs with ventures that are sound financially and have the supporting data, an entrepreneur understands the importance of an accountant and becoming tax compliant. Many entrepreneurs are not ticking the necessary boxes to access financing. If they are able to able to tick all these boxes, who is going to stop them?” she said. #iHELP.


Sandrine Bowen ‘Strength of a Woman’


s a student at the Ardenne High School, Sandrine Bowen was involved in too many activities to recall. “I was really fickle. I would join a club, stay for a little and then move on to something else that was more exciting,” she shared. Despite her ‘fickleness’ though, there were some activities she would come to enjoy. Among them were Swimming, and Basketball; notwithstanding her 5 foot frame; as well as her involvement in both the Interact and French clubs. Fast-forward to more than a dozen years later and Sandrine is still as active but much less fickle than she was all those years ago. Now the Food Technologist at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), Sandrine has settled in the role of providing product development guidance as well as guidance on regulatory requirements and quality control to entrepreneurs who seek to enter the food industry in Jamaica. “My job puts me in direct contact with producers of both pre-packaged and prepared food items. In addition to assessing their products for market readiness, I also conduct sensory evaluations which couples scientific techniques with the human senses to determine how the products will be perceived by the consumers,” she shared. Added to this is another demanding role; mother; and she is fully engrossed in raising four year old Imani but still finds time for swimming and the newest addition to her list of activities, Photography. An employee of the JBDC for the past eleven and a half years, Sandrine’s JBDC journey began in the Marketing Services Unit (Things Jamaican) where she interacted with the store’s over 400 Producers in her capacity as Warehouse Assistant and later, Senior Warehouse Assistant. This meant collecting, checking and distributing inventory to the stores as well as for the many other market access activities in the store was involved. Also on occasion, she would interface with some of the many clients who shopped at the Things Jamaican stores. While working in Things Jamaican though, Sandrine did not lose sight of her ultimate goal. It was during her time in Things Jamaican that she pursued a Masters of Science in Food & Agro-Processing which would later usher her into her current role at the Incubator & Resource Centre. Describing herself as conscientious, empathetic and reserved, Sandrine enjoys the distinction of being only one of a few persons in the organization’s history to hold the position of Food Technologist. Today she still interacts with producers but at a different level… providing instructions on the ‘how to’ of product mixes, shelf life and best packaging benchmarks. Sandrine is also content in the fact that her job contributes directly to the growth of the Jamaican economy. “Product development is very important as it is a catalyst for growth. The more we produce as a country, the more consumers will purchase and the more our economy grows. So I am extremely happy when a client comes in to develop a prototype because at the end of the day, a new product will be on the market,” she stated. And just in case you are wondering, Sandrine has not lost her fire for the activities of her previous life. About five years ago, she grabbed the entire company’s attention when she participated in a cheerleading competition during her eighth month of pregnancy! According to Sandrine, “not only was it groundbreaking, my pregnancy was not a hindrance and I had to build a tradition for the team.” Needless to say the team won the competition. #iHELP.




Donna-Gay Uter The Perfect Finisher


rom a playful little girl who hung out with and did everything that the community boys did to a skilled metalsmith with jewellery pieces that have been featured repeatedly on the international catwalk, Donna-Gay Uter has made her mark as an exceptional Jewellery Designer. At the JBDC’s Incubator & Resource Centre, you may see the unassuming Donna-Gay consulting with clients or conducting training, but behind that quiet demeanor is an adroit metalsmith with a host of techniques in her arsenal including stone setting, applique, formation and forming, patina, upcycling, the Viking knit and more. Donna-Gay grew up in the small secluded community of Thompson Town, Trelawny with her parents and younger brother. As an energetic and playful child, she began to redirect her energy to drawing, inspired by things she found around her. She attended the Christiana High School in the cool hills of Manchester for all her secondary years. Leaving high school Donna-Gay was only sure about two things; that she loved to draw and she had an abundance of creative energy that needed to be channeled. Quite often, she would day dream about professions that she admired and toyed around with the idea of pursuing one. The lawyer, the architect, the entertainment industry was atop the list. However, after completing a work experience programme at a graphics studio, she was inspired and went on a whim to pursue the 3D art form. After leaving the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts, Donna-Gay came to the JBDC as a Product Development Officer imparting her knowledge and experience on aspiring and current jewellery makers and leather craft specialists. “My clients need someone who can help them navigate the industry and guide them not to just put beads on a string, but to include some real designing aspect in their art. At times they have great ideas, but they fall short in the finishing, that’s when I use the various techniques to lift that piece,” she explains. Clients can always anticipate developmental workshops spearheaded by Donna-Gay including Lavishly Leather, Use Me Again, Resin Requirement, Wire Wrapping Techniques, The Perfect Finish and more, where they will be able to see the master metalsmith flex her creative muscles and make even great designs that much better. #iHELP.




Robert Hall

The Near Doctor, Turned Designer


magine for a moment that Robert Hall was not a creative being. His eye for fashion was never developed, the creativity that exudes from his mind; unrealized! All because Robert defied his purpose and fulfilled those of the status quo! The status quo would have been satisfied had he entered the medical field or Christian ministry, but the world, and in particular his students and the MSME sector with whom he now shares his gift would have been deprived.

A typical bright boy, Robert Hall, the Fashion Designer at the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) and Design Lecturer at the Edna Manley College of the Visual & Performing Arts began his education at the Mount St. Joseph Preparatory School in cool, cool Mandeville, Manchester where he was born and bred. The second of three children for his parents, Wilfred and Elaine Hall, Robert recalls that from as far as he could remember, drawing, creating and designing things; whether paper craft or otherwise is what he could do, and in his mind, he was good at it. How good he was, however, was confirmed to him when at 16 years old, he knitted a scarf and gloves for a friend who was migrating to England and hence, Robert the Artist & creator-in-chief was born. “I was atypical when it came to my interests as a child. My greatest pleasure was immersing myself into the Vogue style books whenever I visited my cousin. It was just very interesting to see the trends and different styles in each edition,” he shared. As much as he loved fashion though, this was not the path his parents wanted for him. “Stability for them was key so when I was at Manchester High School a lot of emphasis was placed on my education.” Though his grades fluctuated at different times during the journey, Robert ended fifth form with 7 CXC subjects. Additionally, he engrossed himself in school life. “I was a prominent member of the Drama club, Deputy Head Boy, a member of the 6th Form Association and the Inter-Schools Christian Fellowship (ISCF),” he stated. A Christian, Robert was also active in his church and Youth Fellowship body at Emmanuel Missionary Church. Fast-forward more than 18 years and Robert is now recognized within the Design Industry as an expert. He has consulted for some of the top names in the local industry helping them to develop top notch designs and patterns. He has also dabbled in a business for himself starting RDH Designs some years ago. His collections too have gained some traction locally. His work with both the clients he interacts with at the JBDC and his students at the Edna Manley College is renowned. Looking to the future, Robert declares that the sky is the only limit to the Design Industry in Jamaica and his intention is to assist in any way he can to help in its continued development. “Jamaican designers have more than a knack for fashion. We are at the cutting edge particularly now with the infiltration of so many other ideas in fashion. My goal is to provide a higher level of support where product development and pattern making support to local designers are concerned. Jamaica’s fashion industry can reach greater profitability and I believe that I can contribute to its success,” Robert concluded. #iHELP.





CHAMPIONING THE CAUSE OF MSMES The NCB Group, sooner than many of its competitors in the local banking and finance landscape, has prioritised elevating the presence and impact of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs). Our understanding, gleaned through years of analyses, is that an alliance with these backgrounded contributors to the macro economy, strengthens the capacity to further advance nation-building. Since incorporation, NCB has designed its core business model to not only realise its potential for greatness, but to also lead the campaign to strengthen the operations and profitability of businesses of all sizes. In positioning the microscope on Jamaica’s economic DNA as early as 2004, we began to appreciate the interconnectedness of the of MSME welfare and Jamaica’s growth path toward sustainability. Consequently, the NCB Group has set out to further discover, design and implement strategies, through partnership, to help these building blocks secure business and holistic success.

of entrepreneurs, increase the availability of funding to expanded financial services resource, as well as assist with product development.

as they move through the cycle of growth, will seek to monetise their various ideas and if this resource is not available, the likelihood of failure of a business model, increases. To this end, the NCB Group has designed several solutions around the needs of these types of entities, allowing access to a range of of funding as well as, facilitating support to the growth of MSME partners. Partnerships have always been at the centre of the way in which the NCB Group approaches business and they span different sectors, industries and interests. Back In 2015, as the leading financial institution in Jamaica, the Group partnered with the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) and the International Development Bank to bring into greater focus, the growth of the MSME sector and its expansion into new and emerging industries. This five-year programme is expected to improve the outcomes

As with all businesses, whether startup or established, the necessity of a viable source of financing is undeniable. Financing is that one variable in the push for success that businesses, MSMEs especially, must be able to access as well as confidence in its sufficiency. Entrepreneurs,




While the Group continues to overhaul its products and services, through digitisation, the mandate to create cutting-edge business and service-oriented solutions that are aimed at improving the likelihood of SMEs realising true development, remains intact. Solutions are developed with the limited capabilities of many entrepreneurs. In light of this, a pledge has been made to continue to deliver customised solutions, including banking on the go, crossbank transfer, online account opening and mobile money, that are all aimed at creating an integrated, digital and easily accessed flow of capital for SMEs. This, we believe, directly addresses the previously inequitable advantages that are linchpins of larger entities’ operations. Businesses may further explore this commitment to developing MSME growth and endurance strategies at the upcoming NCB-sponsored Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) Expo or phase two of the JBDC Mobile Business Clinic.


PROVIDES CREDIT AND CONVENIENCE SOLUTIONS FOR SMALL BUSINESSES Small businesses have traditionally been the backbone of many economies and Jamaica has consistently relied on small and medium enterprises that have proven their reliance even during recession - leading the way to recovery. CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank has been a constant partner alongside many of these successful companies, providing the support, products and services to help them build and maintain their performance as they innovate and develop their growing markets and customer base. In today’s fast-paced world of commerce, two characteristics stand out for any business-credit and convenience. CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank offers a range of products including the Business Banking Line of Credit with its increased customer payment options, and acceptance of credit and debit cards. This reduces the need for large sums of cash on the premises, improves cash flow and sends funds directly to the client’s accounts by close of business. The Bizline credit card, for example, which is designed exclusively for Caribbean businesses, helps make doing business faster, simpler and more rewarding. It lets you track your expenses, simplify cash flow management, extend your credit line and get flexible affordable payment options. Customers also earn valuable rewards for their businesses. The bank also offers a Business Overdraft to facilitate cash flow management and to provide short term revolving funds. Its Merchant Services Overdraft allows for flexible servicing, ease of access by the client and easy management of your revolving funds. The bank’s Business Premium Loans provide working capital for

the expansion of your business when you need it and its Business Banking Lines of Credit provide revolving credit. Additionally, CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank takes the inconvenience out of making business payments and transfers. Internet Banking allows convenient balance checking, cheque book reconciliation, account transfers and wire payments. Online Bill Payments facilitate free bill payment for a range of services with no travel time and superior record keeping. You can make electronic wire transfers via the Internet directly from your CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank account to beneficiaries at virtually any international bank. The beauty of using internet banking is that online International Wires attract lower wire fees, you transact business at your convenience and by personally managing the process, you can ensure the accurate, safe and confidential transfer of funds. Mobile Banking gives you instant balances anywhere, anytime - you can check your chequing, savings, loan and time – deposits accounts; track account transactions; and transfer funds between your chequing and savings accounts. These credit and convenience advantages offered by CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank have been welcomed by all businesses across Jamaica and the Caribbean and particularly so by small businesses with their typically small staff complements. The bank is always a step ahead anticipating the support and products required by small businesses.

March 2017




SUPPORTING ENTREPRENEURS THROUGH FINANCIAL LITERACY Orin Gordon, Head of ACCA Caribbean Jamaica is in a prime position to support entrepreneurs. Recently, the growing success of the Junior Stock Exchange has been a stimulus for growth for a number of small businesses across the country. The Junior Stock Exchange is just one of many ways investors can put capital into legitimate small and mediumsized enterprises (SMES). In October 2016, the Income Tax (Amendment) Act, which seeks to continue the incentives provided under the Junior Stock Exchange, was passed in the House of Representatives. Benefits provided through the amendment include a 10-year tax break, where no corporate tax is paid for the first five years and 50 per cent of the prevailing rate is paid in the next five years. Companies also have access to capital as a result of preferential treatment from banks. By opening up the access to finance, Jamaica has enhanced its competitiveness on the global stage. Competitiveness can be defined as the “ability and performance of a firm, sub-sector or country to sell and supply goods and services in a given market, in relation to the ability and performance of other firms, sub-sectors or countries in the same market.” In the Global Competitiveness Report 2016-2017 from World Economic Forum, Jamaica was ranked the second most competitive Caribbean country behind Barbados. But finance alone doesn’t determine the success of business. Becoming an entrepreneur does have some obstacles. Research has already revealed that more than 50% of start-ups fail within the first five years. Financial literacy is a major skill most entrepreneurs fail to master that contributes to these disappointments. And it’s not something they can afford to ignore either as research has shown the up to 36% of business failures are caused by inadequate financial management.

Financial expertise helps to uncover a company’s financial strength, financing cost, financial flexibility, business control, financial risk, personal finances and business strategy. These areas are essential for highlighting business performance and the areas and capabilities to be able to innovate. After all, financial management is at its most powerful when used to drive improvements. Crucially, financial knowledge is not an onus to be solely carried by entrepreneurs. There are plenty of good accountants that can give good financial advice, especially in the planning stages. They are indeed experts in areas such as raising business finance, tax planning, business planning, and setting up financial management systems. Across Jamaica, there were over to 2,900 students (ACCA & Foundation) in February this year undergoing their training in professional accountancy, delivered by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants). They are learning a variety of technical and business-related components in their training. These bright and motivated individuals achieving the qualification will go on to provide finance and accounting services throughout the island. Through their commitment to this, and the rigorous grounding they have received in governance, good practice, ethics and transparency, the next generation of professional accountants will ensure that businesses in Jamaica always strive to be better. Having the right financial management is vital throughout the life of a business. Whether you are just starting out, have an established business or are looking towards a final exit from a firm, you need to have the right financial capabilities to ensure your organisation achieves its full potential. Today’s businesses are changing and innovating more rapidly than ever before and their financial management needs must continue to evolve alongside their developments. Recognising the right financial management capabilities is therefore imperative to their success.

Financial skills are at the heart of running a successful business but sadly many budding entrepreneurs are missing the vital knowledge needed to make informed and effective financial decisions.




JN Small Business Loans:

Helping Small Businesses To Grow For the past 17 years, JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) has helped entrepreneurs realize their dreams of success. With 30 locations across the island, the country’s leading microfinance company is proud of its track record of helping micro entrepreneurs not just to ‘stay afloat’, but also to expand their operations. “We believe in being more than just a loan company,” noted Mrs. Gillian Hyde, general manager, JNSBL. “We give people the opportunity to grow.” As responsible lenders, JNSBL through one-on-one consultancies and regional seminars, provides sound management advice to clients about creating business plans, marketing strategies; and meeting their loan obligations in a timely manner. In addition, through its Credit Relations Officers, the company offers client guidance on maintaining business viability. This approach of being responsible lenders was recognised in 2015 when the Caribbean Micro Finance Alliance commended and rewarded the company for addressing the well-being of its clients. The award demonstrated JNSBL’s dedication to improving the lives of the people it serves. Guided by its mantra, ‘Life opportunities, loan possibilities’, in the past financial year, JNSBL disbursed approximately 14,000 loans, valued at more than $3 Billion. Since its inception, it has assisted in the creation and maintenance of more than almost 200,000 thousand jobs, particularly in the retail, agriculture and manufacturing sectors.

“Earlier this year we launched our BizVend product that offers a loan of $10,000, without collateral, to micro entrepreneurs who want to expand their businesses,” the General Manager said. “This loan is for our vendors who retail juices, gums, candies, fruits and other items,” she explained. She added that another product, the Loan Rush, was also designed to support micro entrepreneurs. “There are those who are established business persons and need capital to assist them with expansion and require more than $10,000. The Loan Rush product is tailored specifically for them.” JNSBL offers a ClimateSmart loan to entrepreneurs in agriculture and tourism to invest in technology to mitigate against the effects of climate change. There are the more generalised BizGrow and BizBoost loans, while the TEF 5x5x5 loan for persons in the tourism sector, and motor vehicle loans are also available. All of these products and services give JNSBL the flexibility to reach out to a wide cross section of potential and practicing entrepreneurs, and positions the company as one that is improving the lives of Jamaicans.

CONTACT: Leighton Williams // JN Corporate Communications // Jamaica National Building Society Tel: 936-0456, 381-3807 // Email: leighton@jnbank.com // Website: www.jnbank.com






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This is the reason several tax offices have been outfitted with an e-Tax Spot, which is a dedicated area that allows taxpayers to file online with the support of TAJ personnel. e-Tax Spots are now available at the Cross Roads, St. Ann’s Bay, May Pen and Spanish Town Tax Offices, as well as at the Kingston, Montego Bay and Mandeville Revenue Service Centres.

The business of paying taxes in Jamaica has become much more convenient and easier with the suite of e-Facilities provided by Tax Administration Jamaica (TAJ). Now Taxpayers can experience greater efficiency and ease of doing business at the click of a button for most tax services.

Additionally, the e-Filing Centre located at the Constant Spring Tax Office allows up to six (6) taxpayers at a time to conduct their online transactions with on hand support from TAJ personnel.

RAiS These e-initiatives have been implemented to provide support to taxpayers wishing to transact business online. The Revenue Administration Information System (RAiS), is the gateway to the tax authority’s electronic services, which allows taxpayers to conduct several tax transactions online to include: • Filing and Payment of all major tax types • Query and Payment of Property Tax • Payment of Traffic Ticket Fines • Generate Statement of Accounts • Create a payment plan • Submit TCC applications and validate status • Initiate TRN application • Request an advisory visit • Object to an assessment

Educational Tax Spots The administration has made significant investment in its tax education capabilities through service that is relevant to the Jamaican populace. It is to this end that the administration has enhanced its activities to take tax services to business associations, trade shows and special sensitization sessions, through the use of its Tax Spot. This provides a portable service window for information, live demonstrations of RAiS, free consultancies and online registration services for business persons. Online tax services puts greater freedom and convenience in the hands of the taxpayer, as they are able to interact with their account information in real-time, saving individuals, business persons and companies time and money; FAST, SECURE, CONVENIENT! The future of tax services is changing the way we do business to serve the public EVEN better.

To take advantage of the many benefits of RAiS, persons simply need to apply for an e-Services Registration, which may be done online or through the Customer Care Centre at 1-888-829-4357 free of cost. e-Tax Spot Tax Administration Jamaica has expanded its e-Facilities to provide even greater support to taxpayers, who may not have the capacity to access its online services at home or work, or those who would opt to get tax support while utilizing the online services.

TAX ADMINISTRATION JAMAICA Communications Unit PCJ Building (4th Floor) 36 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10 Phone: 922-8746 // Fax: 754-9593 E-mail: communications@taj.gov.jm // Website: www.jamaicatax.gov.jm Facebook: www.facebook.com/jamaicatax