The Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), in collaboration with the Jamaica Business Development Corporation (JBDC), on Wednesday, (May 31, 2023) launched the Growth and Expansion of MSMEs through Innovation and Grant Programme (GEMINI), designed to support the growth and development of micro-, small-, and medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) toward improving their operational efficiency, enhancing their market competitiveness, accessing to finance, and ultimately increasing their chances of success.
Speaking at the launch held at its New Kingston offices, Hugh Grant, DBJ general manager for project management, noted the GEMINI is intended to replace the Bank’s premier capacity building programme, the Voucher for Technical Assistance (VAT), which has come to an end after 10 years.
The GEMINI is built on the lessons learnt from the VAT, Grant said, and will cater to approximately 1000 MSMEs.
“All entrepreneurs accessing the GEMINI programme will be assessed, tiered and placed in one of four business development programmes that are currently executed by the JBDC. The MSMEs will benefit from closer guidance, hand-holding and training in addition to the specific needed grant support, for example, [with] their business plans, financial statements or financial services,” Grant said.
Further, “a key component of the programme is the assessment of the MSMEs to ascertain their needs and address them to increase their capacity,” he said, noting that the learning coming out of the VAT points toward assessing MSMEs and being able to advise and guide them based on the support and service-support they need to grow.
In his remarks, managing director of the DBJ, Anthony Shaw noted the DBJ’s “long history of providing capacity development services” to the business community.
“Between 2008 to 2023, we have had no fewer than six programmes which have supported over 330 MSMEs with technical assistance and grants to help build their capacity valuing over $1.6 billion dollars,” Shaw said.
For her part, Valerie Viera, chief executive of the JBDC, said the agency “expects success and anticipates growth for the participants” of the GEMINI programme.
The DBJ has earmarked J$100 million for the pilot, which will run until the end of the 2023/24 Financial Year.