by Jean Lowrie-Chin | excerpt from Jamaica Observer column | 26 JAN 2015
It was good to learn that the recent business survey sponsored by the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce showed a resurgence in confidence. More of us are understanding that positivity is energizing while negativity is draining. Positivity demands energy to follow through on one’s resolve while negativity robs us of our will to succeed.
|PSOJ President William Mahfood (from Jamaica Gleaner)|
A JIS report mentions the response of PSOJ President William Mahfood to the survey: “Mahfood says he is optimistic about Jamaica’s continued economic recovery and growth over the medium to long term, noting that a number of other private sector stakeholders share similar sentiments. This optimism, he informs, has manifested in “tremendous” investments which they have made, particularly over the last 18 months, to expand their operations.”
“I think a lot of these will now begin to reap the rewards,” he is quoted as saying. “There are still companies on the sidelines, which have been waiting for stability (in the economy), and I advise them that now is the time (to invest) as never, I think, in the future will we see an opportunity like now, to invest in the country."
I met the dynamic V. Sherry Tross, Executive Secretary in the OAS Secretariat for Integral Development last Friday, just before her organisation’s signing of a partnership with our Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce to support small businesses. As we discussed the importance of small business, she told us of a Guyanese young man who was chosen to display his solar-dried fruits at an exhibition in Central America some years ago.
“He arrived two days before the event and practiced important phrases in Spanish that would help him to market his products, working hard for a modest cash prize which he needed for his business,” recalled Ms. Tross. She said that he had prepared small packets of his products so visitors could sample them on the spot. Lo and behold, a Brazilian distributor (yes the Portuguese and Spanish languages are quite similar) was bowled over and the young man is prospering, as his products are now being sold throughout Brazil!
As Cuba opens up and we aspire to wider markets, it is important that we focus on Spanish language training in our schools and indeed all sectors. Ms Tross noted that the Government of Panama is moving to make their country a bilingual nation. Our own world champion boxer Nicholas “Axeman” Walters is virtually bilingual after using Panama as his training base.
The Jamaica Chamber of Commerce is onto something with a plan to equip businesses with Spanishlanguage skills. Their executive director Trevor Fearon noted in a letter to the business community, promoting a new Spanish learning project:"One fact that emerged during the JCC’s 2013 Procurement Seminar was that firms from the English-speaking Caribbean were at a competitive disadvantage in attempting to take advantage of the multi-billion markets … Now, with Jamaica positioning itself as one of the hemisphere’s logistics nodes, it may be all the more important for our businesses to prepare themselves for greater interaction with the countries and businesses of the region – and a crucial step in that direction is literally speaking the same language!”