Growth & Jobs | BizCon to build ecosystem for entrepreneurs to survive

Growth & Jobs | BizCon to build ecosystem for entrepreneurs to survive

Chukwuemeka Cameron, founder, of Design Privacy and Mohan Beckford, chief vision officer of Next Step Digital Solutions, explore the data protection platform during the inaugural staging of BizCon: Financing and Innovation Conference for MSMEs on April 23, at the Jamaica Pegasus.

Mohan Beckford, the consummate entrepreneur, has dedicated his life and business to discovering innovative ideas and exploring the digital landscape to bring about transformative changes in micro, small, and medium-sized (MSMEs) businesses.

Beckford, a graduate of the University of Technology (UTech), started his professional career in corporate Jamaica and was employed at one of the island’s leading general insurance companies. A couple of years in, Beckford began to feel uninspired. Going to work was becoming a chore – a mundane task of just showing up for work and doing what was needed.

His desire to impact the MSME industry was fast becoming a hindrance to staying in a job that provided monthly security but no real joy. After fighting self-doubt and fear, he mustered the courage to start his entrepreneurial journey. Beckford left the stability of his nine-to-five and started his journey as a full-time entrepreneur in 2017 with renewed enthusiasm.

“Although the stability was nice, I couldn’t shake the feeling of wanting more and not feeling fulfilled. The routine of ticking boxes and just showing up for work wasn’t cutting it for me. I wanted to be more enterprising and creative; basically, I wanted to live up to my full potential and an avenue to give back,” Beckford said.

This was not Beckford’s first stab at entrepreneurship. He first recognised his entrepreneurial spirit when he assisted his mother in her corner shop at a young age, catering to the community’s needs. This early exposure laid the foundation for his entrepreneurial journey, from vending goods by the beachside to establishing ventures during high school and university.

Beckford soon learned that entrepreneurship was no easy feat. Even though he expected challenges along his journey; what he encountered far outweighed his expectations. The young entrepreneur needed to re-strategise so his business could grow and survive. “The expectation that there would have been challenges certainly came to pass. However, the nature of the challenges certainly superceded my initial expectations. Some of these challenges were just rules and policies that no longer applied and it was difficult to get around them. I had to deal with frustration, notwithstanding the successes within my entrepreneurial efforts,” Beckford said.


Beckford decided to try his hand in another country to test the ease of doing business. When the opportunity to start operations in Canada opened, he wasted no time exploring that market. In Canada, he found that the ecosystem had been designed to get him the help he needed, mentorship, and access to the available structures in one location.

“The policymakers and private sector leaders came together and designed a set of services required for a small business to survive its first five years. The first five years of a small business are the critical years. Once you survive those first five years, it is easier to upscale, expand, and leverage the business’s success,” Beckford said.

Beckford continued his local operations to help more Jamaicans survive the most challenging years of establishing a business. He leveraged the playing field and recently hosted the BizCon Conference through Next Step Digital Solutions, bringing together entrepreneurs from the micro, small, and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) sector.

“I asked myself the question, how many entrepreneurs, how many innovators, how many creatives were living below their potential, with more to give and more to do but were challenged with the thought of surviving that initial year or two because the ecosystem to support their survival is not as robust as they would want,” Beckford said.

According to Beckford, he has taken the knowledge he gained in Canada and can now give back to the MSME sector. He is anxious to invest in making other entrepreneurs’ journeys easier. He believes he can accomplish this through BizCon, which was intended to provide one layer of support for MSMEs to survive the tumultuous years.

“BizCon is not merely an expo and conference. It is a dynamic hub where connections, innovations and growth converge to elevate the business journey of MSMEs,” Beckford shared. He explained that the conference is aimed at empowering MSMEs to thrive in an ever-changing business landscape. “This journey is transformative, where forward-thinking strategies and innovative solutions intersect to propel businesses to new heights,” Beckford said.


He said entrepreneurs who attended the conference will remain a part of the ecosystem through virtual platforms, including his brainchild, the small business marketplace. This digital marketplace offers local businesses a space to list, making them easily accessible. He intends to roll out additional support platforms for businesses over the coming years to ensure more entrepreneurs can benefit from the offerings of the global marketplace.

The inaugural staging featured presentations from local and international experts, including David Mullings, chairman and chief executive officer of Blue Mahoe Capital; Mark Stewart, chief executive officer of Wentworth Strategy Group, Canada; Herbert Hall, founder and chief investment consultant of Ambassador Capital; Eldred Garcia, senior vice president of business and partner development; and Ricardo Durrant, export manager, Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO).

“This was a great first showing for the event, and we intend to improve what we offer with BizCon come April 2025 so that we are not only providing practical solutions for entrepreneurs but bringing more opportunities to explore other territories,” Beckford said.

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At BizCon, we believe in the power of forging meaningful connections among SMEs. Our platform serves as a dynamic hub where entrepreneurs can connect with like-minded peers, industry leaders, and cutting-edge products and services.

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At BizCon, we believe in the power of forging meaningful connections among SMEs. Our platform serves as a dynamic hub where entrepreneurs can connect with like-minded peers, industry leaders, and cutting-edge products and services.

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