An entrepreneur’s strategic guide for Growth and Competitiveness among Micro Enterprises in Jamaica

According to page 20 of the Global Competitive Index (GCI) of 2002, Jamaica “Given Jamaica’s small market, exports must provide the growth needed to achieve development according to the National Industrial Policy. The successful realization of export-led growth requires improved competitiveness, which can be achieved by increasing productivity, although this may imply cost reduction and the use of proper technology.” According to the gospel according to GCI, there are 12 pillars to competitiveness and this writer proposes that instead of seeking solutions to improve competitiveness in developing countries (a.k.a third world states), we adopt and adapt similar competitiveness attributes and framework required for developed nations.

The GCI 2014-2015 diagram above presents a visual outline of the Global Competitiveness Index Framework, and is intended to be an easy interpretation of the solutions to achieve the dream of an effective and efficient “set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country” . The level of productivity, the GCI report continues, in turn, sets the level of prosperity that can be reached by an economy. The productivity level also determines the rates of return obtained by investments in an economy, which in turn are the fundamental drivers of its growth rates. In other words, a more competitive economy is one that is likely to grow faster over time. The concept of competitiveness thus involves static and dynamic components. Although the productivity of a country determines its ability to sustain a high level of income, it is also one of the central determinants of its return on investment, which is one of the key factors explaining an economy’s growth potential.

This is further supported, by the 2014 Jamaica government report that over the past few decades, the country’s real GDP per capita increased at an average of just 1 percent per annum and attributed this to the weak business environment. Light was shed on the issue in June 2014 when the International Development Research Centre in collaboration with the Canada CRDI conducted research which was published under “Fostering Entrepreneurship – A Policy Imperative for Jamaica”. Its key findings include the following:

  1. Compared to the populations in other Caribbean countries, Jamaicans hold more positive attitudes towards entrepreneurship and are more confident in their abilities to start and run a business, but are less likely to perceive good start-up opportunities.
  2. Compared to the Caribbean average, Jamaica has a low level of early-stage entrepreneurial activity and higher rate of entrepreneurs discontinuing their involvement in a business venture
  3. Jamaica’s early-stage entrepreneurs are creating jobs but have relatively low growth ambitions
  4. The vast majority of early-stage ventures are low in innovativeness and employing old technologies. Although modest, the level of innovativeness is greater than established businesses.
  5. While young people do not capture a large share of the entrepreneurial activity, they are becoming a major force in entrepreneurship.
  6. The key to expansion of entrepreneurial activity in Jamaica will be implementing policies and programs to help move more people through the entrepreneurial pipeline, improve the quality and innovativeness of their business ideas, and foster higher growth ambitions.

In my humble opinion based upon my 2 decades’ consulting experience in the Caribbean, Jamaica’s Business support organizations have experimented with wonderful and inspiring projects with great potential. Without external funding—these initiatives died! My proposal to us as a family of proud Jamaicans is that as we celebrate our emancipated freedoms, we push harder and more desperately for economic freedom among ourselves. I agree with the Great Bob Marley “until the basic human rights are met, there will indeed be war and the beauty and uniqueness of Jamaica is that we believe that we have an inalienable right to prosperity. There is absolutely no Jamaican that is of the view that s/he is destined to be in the same economic position that they currently hold.

Here is my road-map my people, whether we have 1 man or 20, 2 products or plenty, we must customize the solution reserved for advanced/ developed economies as per Pillars 11 and 12 in the diagram above. To do so, we will commit to working smarter, not harder and one way is by using investments already made such as those projects and reports of the Private Sector Development Programme of 2009. Whatever we decided we will:

  1. Create an inventory of all MSME research, project reports, Monitoring and Evaluation reports and Funding agency audits
  2. Develop Literature Review reports based upon the year of completion
  3. Map these Literature Review reports to a comparison of key economic and social indications of the land –this will help us to develop perspective and context
  4. We will retain the services of experienced MSME practitioners to supervise and manage the programme and related projects
  5. We will use the French model of Competitive Clusters in the form of incubators and micromanage our processes and strategies; not our people.
  6. We will develop management and supervisory frameworks which use and continually develop our negotiation skills within our implementation organizations – this will reduce unmanaged conflicts and ensure that the level of healthy relationships are high throughout the chain; this will filter down to the businesses like a healthy virus
  7. Practical monitoring and evaluation frameworks are developed and used
  8. Communication networks of timely reports and results are created and employed –just as gossip is spread in Jamaica, so too will results or lack thereof; thereby providing an incentive for popularity based upon productivity
  9. Awards ceremonies are held with the same prominence and opulence of the Annual Awards of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce
  10. Page 2 which feature prominent persons who party will yield to Page MicroBusiness for the period of celebration

This, I believe is our roadmap to microenterprise growth in Jamaica. There are gaps to be filled, let’s fill them together nuh?

Andrea C Livingston Prince,MBA
Economic Development Consultant- Private Sector
skype: thebusinessadvisors

Author: connycimc