The entrepreneurial journey is typically driven by innovation, passion and great sacrifice. Many have also found it to be a lonely road with little support, especially in Jamaica. Sisters’ Ink, a Business Support Consultancy, is focused on shifting the landscape to become more supportive and rewarding for developing entrepreneurs and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs). To this end, their second annual non-profit Summer Showcase was hosted on Sunday, July 29th under the theme, Vision 2030.
As outlined in their mission, to leave an indelible mark on anyone they touch, the focus of this year’s showcase was not only to provide a platform for small, upcoming businesses to broaden their customer base, but to also connect them with additional resources to aid with their continued development. Capitalizing on the Vision 2030 theme, the event featured ‘20 inspiring entrepreneurs’ interacting with and providing business advise to ’30 aspiring entrepreneurs’. Opal Levy, one-half of the Sisters’ Ink partnership, stated, “I think it makes a difference when they (the inspirers) actually see their product, and they see them talking about, displaying and selling their products.” This level of interaction with seasoned business persons such as Larry Watson and Peter Bunting, are rare for start-up enterprises, but also integral to their long-term success.
This is the driving force behind the Summer Showcase and Sisters’ Ink’s commitment to ensuring that this second instalment materialized despite the difficulties in securing sponsors. Participating entrepreneurs were charged minimally to cover the cost of the tent for their booth space, with all other event costs being absorbed through Sisters’ Ink and an admissions fee of $500 per person. Committed to nation-building through entrepreneurship, Ms. Levy noted that her company would remain dedicated to the cause as the hope and confidence boost provided through events such as these are critical for small enterprises and by extension the long-term growth of Jamaica’s economy.
This is where she believes corporate Jamaica continues to miss the mark, resulting in the lack of sponsorship the event experienced. “A lot of times, it is very hard to sell the return on investment to corporate Jamaica in an event like this.” Ms. Levy elaborated to share that if we begin to understand and embrace that building and exposing our entrepreneurs, so they can sell locally and internationally, will result in job creation, employment and increased incomes that get spent in our economy, then investing in activities such as the showcase should be automatic. While not an immediate return, the long-term benefits are worthwhile.
Many of the enterprises showcasing were attending the event for the first time and looked forward to the feedback they would receive from the inspirers. Some were returning exhibitors who benefited from last year’s event and returned for further advancement. This is the cycle of hope, opportunity and continuity that fuels the Summer Showcase and the work done by Ms. Levy and her team, “I really believe if we put in the necessary framework and infrastructure that will support entrepreneurs in this country, in the next five years we should have a country that a lot of other countries will envy.”