CLUSTER AND VALUE CHAIN PROGRAMMES
Jamaica Cluster Competitiveness Cluster Project (JCCP): Agribusiness – Sauces and Spices; Tourism – Nature Adventure Tourism; and Entertainment – Jamaica Signature Beats
Prospective participants came together in a series of workshops to explore current opportunities, barriers, and mindsets. This led to the development of a diagnostic and the implementation of a methodology for the selection of the three clusters that were to form the basis of the project’s work. This work was then dovetailed with a National Platform Assessment, to better understand Jamaica’s export performance and the environment for the development of competitive segments. The results of this work were synchronised to form a master diagnostic of national economic opportunities which formed templates for each cluster’s work. Participation was open to all firms, including those not directly involved in the selected cluster. For example, a number of Tourism firms participated in the Entertainment cluster. Similarly, several start-up food businesses were included in the Agribusiness work. Each cluster developed its own work process, through monthly plenary meetings, and semi-monthly sub-group meetings. In this format, strategies were jointly developed and collaborative initiatives were chosen. Firms were encouraged to come to JCCP staff for individual assistance when desired, and several dozen firms received extensive one-on-one coaching.
Based on their survey work, the Sauces and Spices Cluster chose to pursue three major initiatives. The three were: collaborative purchasing of glass bottles; increasing the supply of peppers by facilitating a pepper mash collaborative; and the strengthening of market connections between local suppliers and international distributors. A comprehensive survey of North American distributors, as well as a thorough analysis of the global competitive landscape led to the development of a detailed strategy, including targeting specific market segments in the U.S. To support the development of the cluster’s marketing efforts the cluster hosted a leading specialty distributor from the United States to advise the cluster and individual firms. Her guidance and their connections resulted in new sales and improved
customer understanding. On the advice of the visiting distributor, one cluster member revised his distributor incentive scheme and saw sales rise by 60%.
The bottling initiative led to orders from several agro-processors representing approximately 25% of the local market through the preferred vendor pricing arranged by the JCCP. Cluster firms realised cost savings between 8% and 25% resulting in total savings in excess of USD $500,000. Further, the cluster’s increased buying power allowed its participating firms to receive unprecedented levels of service: new and exclusive bottle designs were provided to cluster firms.
Over 100 public and private businesses participated in the Tourism cluster. Based on targeted market research geared toward a new, higher-spend travel segment for Jamaica, the cluster developed a new programme which came to be known as ‘Unique Jamaica’, geared to the nature-adventure-culture segment. ‘Unique Jamaica’ incorporated three streams of experiences: Jamaica Naturally, Taste of Jamaica, and Roots Jamaica, all targeting a higher-value traveler and leveraging the characteristics of ‘authentic Jamaica’. Approximately 35 tour packages were designed, over half of which were negotiated and priced and taken to market. A wide variety of initiatives took place in the early months of the cluster. The cluster created a marketing campaign, complete with supporting materials, and a schedule of international trade shows and events. Based on targeted market research geared toward a new, higher-spend travel segment for Jamaica, the cluster developed a new programme which came to be known as ‘Unique Jamaica’, geared to the nature-adventure-culture segment. The Tourism cluster organised itself into six working groups, each charged with addressing a key challenge facing the group of participating companies. The Tourism cluster galvanized other companies in the economy to support the Unique Jamaica initiatives. This support included the production of a DVD (showcasing the caving, hiking, biking, reggae shows and culinary experiences of Jamaica); the collation of a Unique Jamaica library of books (as the new target segment was the highly-educated traveler); and merchandising in the form of Unique Jamaica collateral material. The latter were geared toward building a sense of group as well as a source of additional revenue to fund general marketing efforts. A first-class booth was designed for trade shows, and eleven cluster participants attended the first show in New York. Three cluster firms attended the London trade show. The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) co-hosted the booth with these non-traditional operators and altered their global campaign to include the new market segment targeted by the cluster members. With project proposal support from JCCP, the Tourism cluster won a US$600,000 grant from DFID’s Business Linkages Challenge Fund (BLCF) to extend and expand this marketing campaign.
The focus of the Entertainment Cluster was the promotion of Jamaica as a destination for cultural tourists, and music producers. A survey of international labels, as well as a cross-section of “music destinations” was completed, offering solid guidance on realistic and meaningful opportunities. This allowed the cluster to define a targeted set of activities, as well as to integrate a number of key activities with the national tourism infrastructure. Promoting Jamaica as a destination for music tourism and music production was a way to extend the benefits of the local industry to a much wider number of service providers, as well as to incubate current and future generations of artists. In order to help managers and artists successfully connect with the international industry, the JCCP worked with national institutions to provide workshops in topics such as marketing and promotion techniques, stage craft, and music production. Later, the cluster project brought international practitioners to lead workshops to build capacity in specialist tools such as ProTools and Melodyne.
Two major initiatives were pursued in the creation of Jamaica as a “Music and Cultural Destination”. One working group created a unique entertainment offering for the tourist market, focusing on music aficionados and reggae fans around the world. Four tour ideas were developed based on: studio tours to see where and how the music is made; the musical roots of religion; the story of Bob Marley; and the drumming and dancing traditions of Jamaica. Guided by tour operators from the tourism cluster, the entertainment cluster mobilized to create these tours and link them to Unique Jamaica’s marketing campaign. The second initiative focused on strengthening the capacity of Jamaica as the inspirational and technical source for international music producers. The JCCP worked with industry leaders to create a complete package for international producers and artists to come to record in Jamaica and incorporate dancehall and reggae rhythms into their songs. This group created a preliminary audit of the best services available in Jamaica for studio facilities, session musicians and vocals, and video production, to be rated and marketed internationally.
The Entertainment Cluster registered itself as Jamaica Signature Beats and later participated in MIDEM in Cannes, France. The MIDEM Fair is the largest music industry trade show in the world and attracts almost 10,000 delegates from all over the world, representing different areas of the music industry. MIDEM provided an opportunity for JSB to meet with potential booking agents from various countries leading to the strengthening of its network. JSB entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with 14 new booking agents who expressed enthusiasm at being able to access a variety of Jamaican music industry players through one collective organization.
The COMMIT and Sustainable Clusters Project, both funded by USAID extended work started under the Jamaica Cluster Competitiveness Project, continuing the work with the Sauces and Spices, Tourism and Entertainment Clusters. Funded by the European Union Private Sector Development Project, Unique Jamaica became My Jamaica Travels (myjamaicatravels.com), while TCC also implemented, with funding from DFID, a West Indian Sea Island Cotton Cluster.
Ornamental Fish Cluster: “Building a Bridge to a World of Opportunities: Developing a Global Ornamental Fish Urban Value Chain in Jamaica”
Funded by The Gates Foundation, through the Small Enterprise and Education Promotion Network (SEEP) programme, is an initiative to improve the livelihood, prosperity and quality of life of alienated and underserved urban youth in Jamaica’s violence-prone inner-city communities. These areas are characterized by the existence of many unemployed, poorly educated youth (mostly male) who have few lucrative alternatives to violence and criminal activities for sustainable income. Ornamental fish is one of the few alternatives and is a fast spreading hobby and potential source of income among these young men. Unfortunately, this nascent industry is characterized by very little focus on efficiency, coordination, marketing and collaboration among farmers, customers and suppliers. The goal of this project was to nurture the development of a globally competitive Jamaican ornamental fish industry founded on the active engagement of young males from Kingston’s inner cities. The work centred on developing an existing and limited value chain that included a few hundred small, farmers with low levels of production; very few intermediaries and support institutions into one that is more comprehensive, cohesive and market – facing in order to promote and increase revenues from export markets.
Jamaica’s climate is ideal for year-round production of a range of tropical ornamental fish, and its proximity to the world’s largest import market (the US) offers great potential for export. The raising of ‘pet fish’ has been pursued for many years, particularly among young men, the main participants in the project. Through their natural enthusiasm for fish, sheer determination, and informal systems of learning and sharing knowledge with one another, existing ornamental fish farmers in urban Jamaica have been able to produce beautiful fish of good quality in less than ideal environments, make a living, and supply, albeit to a limited extent, the local and international markets. By linking the country’s natural endowments with its existing and potential farmers’ enthusiasm for fish farming, the project has the potential to create income-earning activities that contribute to reducing some of the hopelessness of Jamaica’s inner city communities.
The project began by undertaking detailed market research in order to establish the feasibility of the action based on the robustness of the international market. This resulted in a deeper understanding of the dynamics of global ornamental fish market and the development of good relations with specific buyers. The project partners with a microenterprise financial institution to ensure special approaches to serving the farmers’ needs for financing; supports the farmers in upgrading their farms; coordinates more organized, scaled-up production; provides community-based business and extension services; improves market linkages and learning to ensure a more market-driven industry; improves and diversifies export market penetration and performance; and builds the capacity of farmers to collaborate in order to improve their efficiency, lower their costs and ultimately improve the economic prospects of their individual enterprises.
The successes of this cluster have provided a platform for further work, funded by the European Union through the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (Building Skills to Create Wealth) and USAID (Collaborate to Prosper). Among its achievements, the cluster has enabled the widespread use of a re-circulating aquaculture system which generates zero waste; introduced energy efficient pumps that have reduced energy consumption by 67%; trained trainers to improve access to training services; developed extensive fish farming manuals to provide needed technical information to farmers; led joint procurement initiatives that have resulted in a 40% reduction in the cost of feed; introduced new species on the basis of market demand and established marketing and networking relationships in the U.S., Singapore and the United Kingdom. Working with the Aquaculture Branch of the Jamaican Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries and the National Aquaculture Training Institute (NATI) of Australia, training programmes have been developed and 300 farmers have been trained in simple fish farming techniques; fish nutrition; re-circulating aquaculture systems; breeding and hatchery management; and fish health and disease management. 90 new farms have been established and 30 upgraded. The cluster is poised to begin regular exports to international markets.