Last Thursday was a moment of celebration for 14 small and medium-size enterprise (SME) owners who successfully graduated from The Honey Bun Foundation’s ‘Create your Strategic Road Map’ curriculum. A virtual graduation ceremony was the culmination of eight weeks of training in 12 areas of business for the participants. This included marketing, market research, corporate governance and leadership. The programme was sponsored by Wisynco, NCB, Sagicor, Fleetwood Limited, and the EXIM Bank’s Business Advisory Service Initiative. Eighteen SMEs operators were offered scholarships valued at over $250,000 for the curriculum.
Founder of The Honey Bun Foundation Michelle Chong explained that as the pandemic hit Jamaica, she noticed a number of online webinars for SMEs on every area of business. “People were learning from different sources as they were being displaced and earnings were diminishing. They (SMEs) needed help, and the webinars were like a life jacket for them, providing some hope. But they needed more. They needed to have this pandemic become an opportunity for SMEs. So, the curriculum was developed, structuring training in the critical areas of business with a clearly defined and actionable outcome, which is their individualised strategic road map for each company,” she said.
During the course of the training, the SMEs were actively engaged in developing a strategic road map based on each module. This ensured that at the end of the curriculum, they would have a solid strategic plan with timelines, and this would be their chart for success, even in these challenging times. Following the programme, each company will be offboarded to an advisory board to support them and keep them accountable for their project executions.
Speaking at the virtual graduation ceremony, State Minister in the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce, Dr Norman Dunn, lauded The Honey Bun Foundation for the work it is doing. “I am extremely proud to know that Jamaica has a company such as Honey Bun, which is able to offer such a curriculum as you seek to transform the economy by supporting and strengthening small and medium-size enterprises. The programme represents the foundation’s unique value proposition of developing unique, sustainable models for businesses, and is in alignment with several national growth plans and policies of the Government.” He noted that the more we are all in tune with what it takes to make a business succeed, the more of us will succeed, and then the country will succeed.
Course participant Jennifer Hurlock, owner of Dayo Plantation Restaurant in Montego Bay, who was sponsored by EXIM Bank, and who also received the highest grade of the cohort, said: “This programme has highlighted the deficiencies in my own business, and points the way to make the adjustments.” She explained the range of emotions she has experienced over the past eight weeks as: “From scepticism, because of the current downturn in business, to engagement to hope, and now to enthusiasm for the future. A fire has been lit to shine the way forward. I thank The Honey Bun Foundation for the innovation. Dayo Plantation will become a much more successful business.”