UCC targets MSMEs

UNIVERSITY of the Commonwealth Caribbean (UCC) is inviting more micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) to take up offers for its Business Development & Consultancy Institute (UCC BDCI), which offers business advisory, training, and back office services.

Formed in August 2020 with a view to support UCC’s mission of fostering leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship in Jamaica, the institute serves to bridge the gap between the university and private sector.

“What we have come to realise is that many entrepreneurs don’t necessarily need an injection of cash; what some need is technical assistance to get their business off the ground…our aim is to support MSMEs to grow, compete and innovate,” Tennile Howell-Hussey, acting director of UCC BDCI, told Jamaica Observer.

“We provide business development support services and assist entrepreneurs and businesses in accessing finance and implementing digital business solutions,” she added.

With this in mind, Howell-Hussey pointed out that the institute’s interaction with MSMEs involves conducting assessments to identify the services they need to improve their operations. Furthermore, UCC BDCI offers its consultancy and advisory services in accordance with the standards of approved financial institutions and then reports on what impact the services offered have had on the businesses.

In addition, it offers training in writing a business plan, understanding financial statements, business communications, digital marketing, corporate governance, among other subject matters.

What’s more, UCC BDCI is exploring the integration of research from the university into its business consultancy and advisory services.

“We are looking at implementing research programmes that are designed to foster commercialisation of new ideas, especially the role of digital technology and also research, to inform policies that seek to address improvement in the business environment and the economic growth agenda,” former director and consultant at UCC BDCI Reginald Nugent shared.

To better meet the needs of its clients, UCC BDCI categorises businesses into three tiers. Tier-one clients are those needing advice on starting a new business venture, tier two are early stage ventures looking to scale, and tier-three clients are established businesses that are experiencing growth and are at the expansion stage, but need technical services.

Moreover, as a partner organisation of the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ), the institution also facilitates redemption of vouchers for technical assistance (VTA) through which MSMEs can access capacity building services. To access these services, businesses should also be registered or incorporated while earning less than $75 million in revenue.

BDCI also helps businesses to access financial assistance through DBJ’s Serve Jamaica programme, which has earmarked $3.1 billion in loans and grants for business looking to recover from the impact of the pandemic.

According to Hussey, “We are serving 92 clients who are participating in the DBJ Serve programme.”

She added, however, that the institution also offers free consulting and advisory services in collaboration with the Jamaica Business Development Centre and as part of the Small Business Development Centres network.

Another programme available to MSMES is ValueEdge, which provides MSMEs with accounting and financial management services.

“ValueEdge is a back-office service that is designed to…help bring financial management capacity to firms in that sector at an affordable rate. ValueEdge offers entrepreneurs and business owners the option to outsource accounting functions to our experienced accounting staff,” Nugent explained.

As part of the service, UCC BDCI not online provides outsourcing services to businesses but also uploads their accounting information to QuickBooks and trains MSME staff to use the software.

Additionally, while the institute helps businesses to transition to full use of QuickBooks, it performs monthly maintenance of companies’ accounts.

Speaking to the benefits of ValueEdge, Nugent said, “By setting up their bookkeeping and accounting system, MSMEs will have the wherewithal to evaluate their operating performance and assess their financial condition and strengths. The ability to understand how the business is performing is critical to making prudent decisions that will determine whether the business is successful or not.”

 

Date Published:

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Source: Jamaica Observer