SBAJ pres­i­dent urges busi­ness own­ers to em­brace tech

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Nadine Wil­son-Har­ris/Staff Re­porter

NEWLY ELECTED pres­i­dent of the Small Busi­ness As­so­ci­a­tion of Ja­maica (SBAJ), Michael Leckie, said that a num­ber of small busi­nesses are cur­rently strug­gling to sur­vive, but he feels a will­ing­ness to em­brace dig­i­tal tech­nol­ogy could help them in the days ahead, as COVID-19 con­tin­ues to cre­ate fi­nan­cial woes.

“COVID has changed the land­scape, mean­ing no­body is com­ing off the road and into our busi­nesses be­cause brick and mor­tar is out,” said Leckie.

“What we have to do now is to sen­si­tise our mem­ber­ship, have them now change their mind­set and de­cide to do mostly on­line and dig­i­tal com­merce and that is where I want to take them,” he told The

Gleaner.

The SBAJ cur­rently has more than 100 paid-up mem­bers, and more than 300 busi­nesses in their data­base. More that 60 per cent of these busi­nesses are brick and mor­tar.

He said the busi­ness own­ers are em­brac­ing the idea that there is a need for them to be do­ing more on­line.

“We now have to bring the cus­tomer on­line, gauge them dif­fer­ently and pack­age all that we are do­ing dif­fer­ently,” he said.

The new SBAJ boss said that the as­so­ci­a­tion hopes to in­crease its mem­ber­ship in the com­ing weeks by re­vamp­ing the parish chap­ters. They are also hop­ing to at­tract more young busi­ness own­ers.

“I am go­ing to es­tab­lish a vir­tual busi­ness district at the as­so­ci­a­tion, so that we can ac­com­mo­date those who don’t have the start-up cap­i­tal, but re­ally have the mind­set to start some­thing brand new so we can push for­ward,” he said.

The SBAJ is a pri­vate non-profit busi­ness or­gan­i­sa­tion that rep­re­sents the small and mi­cro busi­ness sec­tor. The as­so­ci­a­tion rep­re­sents busi­nesses em­ploy­ing one to 50 em­ploy­ees and have an in­come turnover not ex­ceed­ing US$5 mil­lion per an­num.

Leckie, who is the man­ag­ing direc­tor of CAMCO and As­so­ciates Com­pany, hopes the Govern­ment will part­ner with the SBAJ to keep busi­nesses afloat.

“They now have to think about more cap­i­tal out­lay to bring their busi­nesses up to par where they have to now deal with the pro­to­col of putting up sani­ti­sa­tion sta­tion, re­fit­ting their whole shop front in or­der to make it pos­si­ble for cus­tomers to come in and go out with ease,” he said.

He noted that small busi­nesses are also strad­dled with the “same amount of ex­pense, the loans that are there and the fix costs that are there, so they now want a stim­u­lus in or­der to sur­vive”.

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