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Ryan Parkes (right), Chief of Business Banking at JN Bank, presents, Lisa Grant, Director of Group Legal Services and Administration at Technological Solutions Limited (TSL), with the Pauline Grey Award for Best Support Service, during the 2020 Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA) M&E Awards, which was held virtually on Thursday.   

Richard Pandohie, President of the Jamaica Manufacturers and Exporters Association (JMEA), says the sector must play a pivotal role in Jamaica and rise higher and stronger post-COVID-19.

He was speaking during the virtual JMEA Awards Gala on Thursday, December 10, which saw several major companies taking home top awards.

Mr Pandohie said while Jamaican manufacturers and exporters have been adapting to their new realities brought on by the global pandemic, the sector still has a far way to go in achieving its full potential.

“Indeed, we have been resilient in keeping people employed and we have pivoted to diversify our product offerings. We have found new export markets and we have played a significant role in helping the most vulnerable in our society,” he noted.

“But frankly, we’re nowhere near the level of contribution that this sector is capable of. We’re not growing enough agricultural produce, we’re not manufacturing enough and we’re certainly not exporting enough,” Mr Pandohie lamented.

He suggested that what is needed are more partnerships that will remove crippling obstacles.

“It is not only about government. It’s also about established companies helping micro and small companies to develop. It’s also about associations like the JMEA being a huge resource to young entrepreneurs, who are the real engine of growth and creators of quality jobs,” he said.

The sector has maintained growth throughout the pandemic, with data from the Statistical Institute of Jamaica showing that the sector grew by 3.3 per cent for the quarter ending June 2019.

Ryan Parkes, Chief of Business Banking at JN Bank, applauded the manufacturing community for their hard work and dedication to quality products, noting that the sector has shown significant resilience in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He noted that the growth of the sector and the eventual recovery of the nation’s economy, however, cannot be the sole responsibility of manufacturers and exporters. “It is time that we move seriously to diversify our economy and to pay keen attention to the startup companies that have emerged during this pandemic,” he remarked.

“If governments can help increase the innovation coming from entrepreneurs and increase the incentives for venture capitalists to back entrepreneurs when they need it most, we can move together successfully out of this global recession,” he added. Several major players in the local manufacturing industry took home top awards at the event, which was held virtually for the first time in its history, due to the global pandemic.

The ceremony, which was held in partnership with title sponsors, The Jamaica National Group, under the theme, ‘Leading Recovery with Manufacturing and Export,’ saw more than 10 companies receiving awards in recognition of their outstanding performance in manufacturing and export throughout 2019.

Grace Foods Latin America and Caribbean received the Governor General’s Award for Exporter of the Year, and also the Prime Minister’s Award for Large Exporter in Manufacturing, while Seprod, walked away with the Governor General’s Award for Manufacturer of the Year award.

Other big winners were: J Wray and Nephew Limited, which received the Vision 2030 Corporate Social Responsibility Award; along with the Jamaica Public Service Award for Energy Efficiency; and the National Certification Body of Jamaica (NCBJ) Award for Quality and Standards.

Awardees also included: Jamaican Teas Limited, which received the President’s Award for the Top Medium Exporter in Manufacturing; Caribbean Foods Limited, the JAMPRO Award for the Champion Small Exporter for Manufacturing; Quality Systems Solutions and Initiatives (QSSI), the JAMPRO Award for the Champion Small Exporter of Services; and Tortuga Caribbean Rum Cake Jamaica Limited, which was presented with the Charles Henderson-Davis Award for Breakthrough Product of the Year.

Additionally, Home Choice Enterprise Limited won The Ray Hadeed Award for Best Small and Medium Sized Enterprise, while Red Stripe received the Robert Lightbourne Award for Productivity and Competitiveness, and National Rums of Jamaica Limited was presented with the Nicola Gordon Rowe Buy Jamaican Award.

Technological Solutions Limited (TSL) walked away with the Pauline Grey Award for Best Support Service, and Jamaican Teas Limited won The Best New Packaging Award.