KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The Organization of American States (OAS), in partnership with Jamaica’s Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, the Caribbean Export Development Agency and the University of Texas at San Antonio announced this week the completion of the Small Business Development Centre (SBDC) counselor and director certificate training in Kingston, Jamaica.
The project, launched in 2012 in Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Jamaica, and Saint Lucia, seeks to contribute to the development of institutions to support micro, small and medium-sized (MSME) enterprises in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) region and to improve the competitiveness of small companies, especially those headed by women.
Jamaica’s minister of state in the ministry of industry, investment and commerce, Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams; the deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy, Raymond Brown; and the OAS assistant secretary general, Albert Ramdin, spoke at the ceremony for graduates of the Certificate Training program held on Monday.
Ramdin highlighted that “OAS member states have long recognized the importance of MSMEs as major contributors to employment, growth and innovation.” He noted that small businesses account for 90 percent of the jobs and more than 70 percent of gross domestic product in the CARICOM region and that the project was developed in response to the capacity constraints they face that limit their productivity, competitiveness and full development.
“By helping further develop and strengthen the capacity of MSME support institutions they will be capable of providing the specialized counseling, training, and mentorship programs that will guide businesses in growing and becoming more competitive,” added Ramdin.
The Caribbean SBDC project builds on the 35-year experience of the Small Business Development Centers in the United States and their adaptation to other countries in the region (Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic). The SBDC model combines the resources from institutions of higher learning, public and private sectors in order to assist small businesses, contributing to the sustainability of the program and promoting synergies and efficient use of resources.
The model focuses on one-one and long-term assistance to help clients generate sustained economic impact through the establishment of new businesses, job creation, and increases in sales and access to capital; the promotion of a results-oriented culture, as professionals are evaluated in terms of impact generated through client work; and the development of business and trade linkages among the clients of the different centers through tools such as the SBDC.Global online platform.
The training program is part of the Caribbean SBDC project, which is funded by the United States government through the Permanent Mission of the United States to the OAS. Jamaica is the second country in the region to complete the training, following Belize, where the first SBDC was opened on October 31, 2012.