LEVEL PLAYING FIELD: Lyn (second right) sharing a post-panel moment with Ian Neita, Melarka Williams and the DBJ's Terry-Ann Segree at the Knutsford Court Hotel.
ACCORDING to Milverton Reynolds, Managing Director of the Development Bank of Jamaica, of the 330 small businesses currently enrolled in their access to financing programme (in collaboration with the World Bank), 60% are women-led and women-owned. The revelation came Tuesday morning as Reynolds addressed the 2017 DBJ SME Summit at the Knutsford Court Hotel in New Kingston.
Speaking with TALLAWAH during a coffee break, Reynolds said the figures simply mean that Jamaican women are taking control and leaning in more than ever. “It certainly means that the women are stepping up and working hard at the SME stage to take their businesses to the next level. Hopefully the men will be more energized now to step up,” Reynolds said, adding that this DBJ/World Bank programme is providing over $50 million in grant funding to small-biz owners.
At the same time, Reynolds alludes to the fact that female small-biz owners possibly have more compelling sources of motivation than their male counterparts. “The truth is that women generally play certain roles in the society – raising kids, managing families and taking care of the home space. And a lot of them are looking for opportunities to get ahead,” he offered.
Thalia Lyn, the celebrated Founder & CEO of Island Grill Jamaica, expresses similar sentiments. “I feel women are more willing to take the risk. It’s a man’s world and in the job market, the man often has the edge over the woman,” Lyn argues. “A man and a woman go for a job, the woman being just as qualified. But the employer starts to think about the maternity leave and the family issues the woman may bring to the job, and decides that it’s better for him to hire the man. So more and more women are thinking they should start their own businesses.”
Earlier, Lyn, the superwoman who gave Jamaicans a healthier alternative to fast food with the Island Grill chain, sat on the opening panel (alongside Yello Media’s Ian Neita and Ingenuity Technology’s Melarka Williams) that looked at “Creating a Buzz Around Successful and Innovative Jamaican Businesses.” Her advice for women – and men? Have passion, pitch and persevere.
Featuring presenters and panelists that ran the gamut from Ready TV’s Chris Dehring and Boss Furniture’s Omar Azan to Phase 3 Productions’ Dr. Marcia Forbes and JMMB’s Donna Duncan-Scott, the SME Summit had no shortage of fail-proof advice for the scores of attendees. The summit was held under the theme “Empowering for Success: Talk, Connect, Grow.”