KINGSTON, Jamaica – The Hon. Julian Robinson, Jamaica’s State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, said there is room for the island’s young innovators to benefit tremendously from the growing mobile applications market around the globe.
Speaking to students from rural non-traditional high schools yesterday (May 30, 2013) at the Young Entrepreneurs ‘I am the Change’ Business Expo at The University of the West Indies, Minister Robinson declared that the market is estimated to be worth some US$20 billion, employing more than half a million people in the United States of America, alone.
Unlike many other business sectors, he noted, mobile applications allow people to immediately compete on a global level as it provides access to a global audience.
“Therefore, you can develop an app, and if that app is good enough, and you get it on an android or iPhone platform, you have a global audience,” he told students. “Imagine the potential to make money if hundreds, thousands and millions of people purchase your app?”
The Minister commended the managers of the Young Entrepreneurs I am the Change initiative, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), the Victoria Mutual Building Society (VMBS) and Digicel for implementing the programme; and indicated that it helps to infuse innovation with entrepreneurship, which has been lacking in the traditional education system.
At the same time, he pointed out that Jamaica adopted the old British model of education, which does not encourage innovation or entrepreneurship; and maintained that, “Innovation and entrepreneurship are critical to ensure that we move out of the economic challenges.”
Minister Robinson also affirmed that the country can only move forward if it finds ways of earning foreign exchange, which it can strengthen by moving beyond maintaining a services-type economy into developing its intellectual resources. He said Government is committed to facilitating the development of people in this regard, pointing to initiatives, such as the E-Learning and Computer Tablet Projects, which are geared to improve access to technology and the internet.
“The objective is not just to say many Jamaicans have access to the technology, because it’s what you use the technology to do,” he emphasised, “and that is to enhance the quality of your education first and foremost; and, most importantly, to provide the tools that will empower you in a tangible way,” he said.
He encouraged the students to find ways to develop solutions to problems they have. And, he noted that the same problems that they have here in Jamaica are likely to exist in other parts of the world.
Also speaking at the Expo, Earl Jarrett, Director for the Mutual Building Societies Foundation (MBSF) and General Manager of JNBS, said the Young Entrepreneurs initiative exposed the students to important concepts.
“We taught them how to conceive and set project plans; how to be accountable; how to work in teams; and how to set objectives for their business. These are the essential ingredients Jamaica will need, as we go forward in a very competitive environment to deal with our growth agenda,” Mr. Jarrett said.
Samantha Chantrelle, Executive Director of Digicel Foundation added that the programme demonstrates what youth bring to the growth process.
“They bring ideas and they bring passion; but, more importantly, they do things that may not come as easily to us, particularly as it relates to Information Communication Technology, ICT,” she said.
Over 180 students from six rural based high schools displayed products and services from businesses they have established and have been operating in their schools under the Young Entrepreneurs ‘I am the Change’ programme over the past two years. They displayed goods and services produced by their businesses at an Expo at the UWI yesterday, including prototypes of mobile applications, which they developed to solve a range of problems in their schools and communities.
The Young Entrepreneurs initiative is part of a wider schools’ transformation programme, the Centres of Excellence, which is managed by JNBS and VMBS under the joint umbrella of the Mutual Building Societies Foundation. And, the MBSF partnered with Digicel to implement this innovative entrepreneurship programme.