DBJ assists micro and small enterprises with digital transformation

THE range of business services utilised by micro and small enterprises (MSEs), which is financed under the Development Bank of Jamaica’s (DBJ) Voucher for Technical Assistance Programme (VTAP), is being widened to incorporate digital transformation.

According to general manager for strategic services at the DBJ, Christopher Brown, this is to enable eligible MSEs to acquire the requisite Web-based tools and other inputs that will reposition them to function more seamlessly during and after the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The voucher, which the bank introduced five years ago, is one of several MSE-tailored products that targeted entities can use to access technical support services from the DBJ’s accredited Business Development Organisations (BDOs).

The minimum eligibility criteria require entities to be registered with the Companies Office of Jamaica.

Brown told JIS News that each applicant is able to secure up to a maximum of $200,000 in grant financing that is facilitated in the form of a voucher.

This, he pointed out, covers some 70 per cent of the cost of the provisions being sought, “so the client would need to pay the difference to the Business Development Organisation”.

Brown said the provisions currently financed include business and marketing plan development; product testing and formulation support; and the generation of financial statements.

He said that the new thrust, focusing on digital transformation, will also see MSEs being facilitated with access to the $200,000 provision to secure the requisite tools and services.

“We recognise that in light of what is currently happening with COVID-19, businesses need a lot of support in several areas. So, the intention is to help those entities to re-strategise and/or restructure their functions and operations, utilising digital platforms. So, if an entity needs that type of support, the voucher is something that can help them,” he outlined.

“So if you need inputs that will help you work from home, facilitate videoconferencing with your team, or strengthen your social media presence, you can use the voucher to access those as well,” the DBJ executive added.

Brown said the DBJ has shortlisted five core areas that will be aggressively promoted.

These, he said, include digital transformation for new product development, marketing and promotion plans, Web-based marketing packages, and updating business and strategic plans. He noted that these were derived from consultations and dialogue with business stakeholders.

Additionally, Brown pointed out that market intelligence gleaned by the DBJ indicated that since March there has been increased demand for these services relative to others, coinciding with the onset of COVID-19.

“I think this is a [clear] signal to us of what the market wants. So, this is not something that we are pushing without any [tangible] indication,” he added.

Brown said that while he anticipated a positive response to the undertaking after its roll-out, he was keen on seeing how entities would utilise the information and facilitation to advance their operations during and beyond COVID-19.

“We want some innovation to come out of this type of crisis and that’s what we really want to promote and support. So, some of the services that are and will be best suited for entities to cope and transition during and after this COVID-19 period are the ones that we will be pushing heavily,” he pointed out.

Brown said the DBJ would analyse the market’s response to determine whether the thrust embarked on is a move in the right direction “or if there are other or different services that need to be included”.


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