Tuesday 29 September, 2020

SMEs, small farmers benefit from DBJ grants to improve productivity

Under the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ)-led Jamaica Business Fund (JBF), four companies were awarded grant contracts on behalf of local supply chains on Thursday, April 26, 2018, at the DBJ offices.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the lead firms in each of the four supply chains will improve their outputs, increase exports and provide substitutes for imported goods, thanks to the JBF grants designed to boost their productivity and competitiveness.

 In attendance were representatives of the supply chains’ lead firms – B&D Trawling, GK Foods & Services, Jamaica’s Finest Produce and Spur Tree Spices Jamaica, who will all provide project management, quality assurance and other capacity building services to improve the productivity of their respective SME supply chain memberships within the lobster, vegetable, fresh produce and condiment sectors. 

 DBJ Managing Director Milverton Reynolds reminded the meeting about the importance of collaboration, sound business and capacity development strategies for their entire supply chains. DBJ General Manager Christopher Brown commented on the journey of dialogue and management that brought the teams to the point where signing a contract attached to verifiable results is now possible.

JBF Fund Manager Ronald Dubrisingh said, “The four anchor firms represent 55 supply chain beneficiaries comprising fisherfolk, farmers, cooperatives and other stakeholders, which will benefit economically from this intervention. This marks a great day for Jamaica.” 

The representatives of each anchor firm thanked the DBJ and JBF for their support and described how the grants would impact their individual businesses, their supply chains and their overall sectors.

Taji Alleyne of GK Foods & Services said, “Without these grants, it is almost impossible for a small farmer to become medium-sized.”

He mentioned the negative impact of harsh climatic conditions experienced in 2017 and attributed the year’s success to a previous grant that allowed for climate smart technology.

“Our sauces and seasonings would not be on the shelves as you see them right now because the level of devastation would have been complete had it not been for the grant,” he said. 

DBJ grants signing

A total of 9 SMEs, including small farmers, are expected to benefit from the grant to this supply chain, which has an expected outcome of 220 more jobs within member SMEs. 

Sean Francis of B&D Trawling explained plans to retrofit fishing vessels with live lobster wells to preserve their catch for longer and upgrade the landing site in Rocky Point, Clarendon, to ensure better quality to meet international standards. The company’s supply chain consists of 14 fisherfolk who will all benefit from these developments through which more than 30 new jobs are expected on completion of the upgrades. Also present was B&D Trawling’s Roderick Francis.

Oliver Mair of Jamaica’s Finest Produce spoke of using improved technology and protected agriculture to increase his 14-member supply chain’s production of Irish and sweet potato and onions, among other crops. Within a year, 14 additional jobs are expected to be created through implementation of the supply chain’s initiatives.

Albert Bailey of Spur Tree Spices gave specific targets when he spoke. “We’ll be working with 12 farmers, cultivating about 37 acres of different produce,” he said. The target is approximately one million pounds of produce and an additional 25 jobs within a year. 

By providing grants to SMEs in supply chains, the JBF intends to increase overall sales, employment, productivity, exports and import substitution levels. 

 The FCGP is a six-year Government of Jamaica project, funded by a World Bank loan, designed to provide support to the nation’s Growth Inducement Agenda. The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), in collaboration with DBJ and JAMPRO, is implementing the project. Its objective is to strengthen Jamaica’s business environment for private sector investment.

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