WORK IN PROGRESS: The PM hailed the SBAJ's continued efforts as "relentless advocacy on behalf of a vital sector."
For the Small Business Association of Jamaica (SBAJ), observing its 40th anniversary this year, the economic growth of the country goes hand in hand with the growth of the small business sector. Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller agrees. Addressing the SBAJ’s anniversary banquet on Saturday night at the Jamaica Pegasus’ Talk of the Town Suite, PM Simpson-Miller pledged her government’s unwavering support to boost the noble efforts of the island’s micro and small business operators.
“The small business sector is the real engine of growth and development in Jamaica, and so my government remains very supportive of this sector. We will continue to provide opportunities for growth and development and to build the capacity of the sector.”
Citing some statistics during her presentation, Simpson Miller said the small business sector accounts for nearly 80 percent of the country’s employed labour force. “Our intention has always been for creative and hardworking business operators to be profitable, and as such we encourage you to focus on honest, diligent work and wise investments.”
Promised government support aside, the prime minister challenged local small biz proprietors to pursue investments that will aid in their survival. “The sustainability of the small business is linked to the ability to attract long-term investment,” she observed. “Members of the sector will have to take a hard look at how ready they are for global competitiveness.”
Even as she empowered and challenged her audience, the prime minister seized the opportunity to pay tribute to her administration and its achievements on the economic front. “As a government, we have made the right choices for the economy and the growth of local businesses. We have some way to go, but we are heading in the right direction. Going forward, my government intends to improve on these gains.”
As for the national contribution of the SBAJ over the course of the last four decades, PM Simpson Miller hailed the association’s work as “relentless advocacy on behalf of [a] vital sector.”
SBAJ president Hugh Johnson, meanwhile, says increased support from the Simpson Miller government would aid tremendously their mission to step up this advocacy. “We noticed last week that the prime minister didn’t want to fly the gate on a certain occasion. The prime minister knows best. But we are asking her to fly the gate on the small business sector to provide tangible support to complete the cycle of Independence,” Johnson noted. “We are prepared to partner with the government. If we are going to grow as a country, we have to take care of the small business sector.”
Saturday’s anniversary banquet marked the culmination of a week of activities to celebrate the SBAJ turning 40. The celebrations were held under the theme “Jamaica positioning itself in the global market.”