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New research on Caribbean MSMEs

Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs), especially family-owned businesses (FOBs), account for about 70 per cent of private sector employment in the Caribbean.

However, very little research exists about this sector in the region, leaving a wide vacuum for data needed to sustain the growth and development of the sector, which is so critical to the success of these Caribbean economies.

But with the advent of a new book, “Understanding the Caribbean Enterprise: Insights from MSMEs and Family-Owned Businesses”, co-authored by Lawrence A Nicholson and Jonathan G Lashley, and published by Palgrave Pivot last July, some light has been shed on this previously unexplored area within the Caribbean.

The book draws on data collected in Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, and to a lesser extent Guyana, and compares the development and trajectory of FOBs within these territories as opposed to those in developed countries.

The ground-breaking research unearthed a number of revelations about the nuances of FOBs in the region, which could revolutionise the way in which Caribbean governments engage with FOBs to ensure their continued viability and contribution to local economies.

Nicholson is a senior lecturer, head of the Decision Sciences and Information System Unit and deputy executive director at the Mona School of Business and Management (MSBM) on the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in Kingston. Much of his work focuses on supply chain management and FOBs.

Jonathan Lashley is a Fellow at the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies (SALISES) at UWI, Barbados. His research has primarily focused on issues of sustainable socio-economic development. He has been published both regionally and internationally.

The different cultural and ethnic components contributing to the operation of FOBs are exemplified by data collected in Jamaica. As Jamaica is a multicultural country with representation from various ethnic groups, the research explained the profound differences in the way that Jamaican families from different ethnic backgrounds conduct business — perhaps the most significant being the contrast between FOBs owned by individuals of African descent and their Chinese counterparts.

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