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Do business, don’t just ‘do a thing’— JDBC’s Viera

Valerie Viera

As calls increase for more small businesses to become formalised, the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC) in supporting the sentiment, is urging entrepreneurs operating in the space to become fully structured, and registered entities and to not just do business out of mere pleasure.

Speaking at the closing ceremony for JBDC’s Design Fusion last week, Valerie Viera, chief executive officer (CEO) of the JBDC, called on entrepreneurs in the creative industry to get their books in order. Viera also said entrepreneurs at Design Fusion should understand what they are doing and be better able to present themselves to the market.

“We want to ensure that when you go out full into the market you go out well prepared, and nobody can dismiss you as just ‘doing a thing’. I’m sure that throughout your preparation in the programme you have been building a capacity to do business, and I mean business – not just doing a thing!

“When you go to the bank, they want to ensure that you are doing business. It means that putting your books in order and understanding what you’re doing is very important,” Viera told a graduating cohort of 24 participants who completed the programme.

She further stressed that the JBDC aims to help these entities which are often under-served and marginalised, become better prepared to take advantage of all the opportunities that have now opened for the sector.

“At the JBDC we want to move our client group, which mainly constitutes micro, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), to think more like business people. Unless they move from just doing a thing and recognise that they are in business, then they will not be able to succeed,” she told the Business Observer.

“When you think business, you think structure, profit and process. Our business advisory unit is focused on things such as these,” she explained.

Viera emphasised that given the many reported challenges faced by small entities in getting access to loans to finance their businesses, it has become critical that entrepreneurs understand that proper record-keeping is essential.

“There is no way you can go to a financial institution for any support unless you can demonstrate that you know what, why, how you’re doing. It’s not about charity. Once you secure a loan it is expected to be repaid, and you must be able to demonstrate such,” she said.

She pointed out that changes have, however, started to take place in this regard as more and more small businesses are beginning to realise that they need to be structured in a particular way otherwise they will not be able to move forward.

Viera, in articulating the work of her organisation in propelling small businesses for growth, mentioned that the JBDC is currently looking at providing more assistance to small businesses to facilitate their growth.

She highlighted that the parent ministry for her organisation has been pushing to identify more locations for resource centres in order to provide further support and assistance to members of the sector.

“We are expanding our network of offices through our small business development centres [SBDCs] throughout the island. We are looking at Hanover and down in Westmoreland to have other resource centres,” Viera said, while emphasising that the aim is to give opportunities to entrepreneurs outside of Kingston.

Harold Davis, deputy CEO at the JBDC, also underscored the need for structure if the sector is to experience proper growth. He challenged the graduating cohort saying that to grow and to scale, they must embrace the idea of structure.

“Some of our creatives operating in the industry have this thing that they don’t want ‘Babylon’ to know bout dem business — so they don’t want tax, they don’t want to structure. They want to operate under the radar. They have to lose that; that don’t make any sense,” he shared while calling on the graduates to engage in more research.

Through the Design Fusion programme offered by the JBDC, entrepreneurs from the creative/orange economy are trained to become better-established businesses in the areas of fashion, art, craft, and other creative enterprises. The three-month programme aims to teach the participants how to become more business-minded, hone their craft, and enable their growth in the local ecosystem.



Business reporter

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

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