How important is the Orange Economy to Jamaica?

By Erika Heslop Martin

The Orange Economy is also known as the Creative Economy and it deals with goods and services that have natural talent, cultural, innovative and artistic content. The value of these goods and services is determined by their level of innovation, intellectual property and demand and supply. It involves professions that stem from using natural talent to solve a problem or fill a gap creatively. The Orange Economy is extremely important to Jamaica. We are a nation of very creative and talented people and with the world moving in the direction of technology and innovation, the Orange Economy will be getting the spotlight. People are now recognizing the value of the players of the Orange Economy.

They are now seeing the value of the creative and innovative work of writers, editors, singers, dancers, poets, actors, emcees, voice over talents, comedians, authors, artists, fashion designers, composers, musicians, entertainers, motivational speakers, playwrights, movie makers, chefs, florists, jewelry makers and creators of art and crafts. More and more, creative entrepreneurs are realizing that their work is valuable and that they should be paid for their work. The economy is changing and the Orange Economy will be seen as very important in the grand scheme of things. The contributors of the Orange Economy are making a great impact on economic development and sustainability. Also, with the corona crisis happening now, the creative industry will have its place as more businesses are forced to be creative, mobile or go online. There is a greater need for writers, motivational speakers, voice over talents, editors, graphic designers and the list goes on.

Jamaica now understands the value of the Orange Economy. It is now understood that the work of those in the creative industry is not just a hobby or a talent that should be freely given, but, that it is more valuable than they believe. Creative people create solutions to problems. Creatives must be paid for all the work they do because it takes time, money, energy, intellectual capacity and competence to deliver the work. All talents can now be monetized and the banks are discovering this too as they are now willing to finance the participants of the Orange Economy.

What are the challenges being experienced with the Orange Economy?

The challenges that are being experienced by the Orange Economy include: difficulties with getting funding or financing by banks or other financial institutions, being paid for their work as professionals, being able to get proper business support and being able to develop and maintain proper accounting records.

What can the government do to stimulate activities in the Orange Economy?

The government can offer start up or business support grants to creative entrepreneurs who have demonstrated that they are serious about what they are doing and that they are interested in nation building. Classes or courses about the Orange Economy should be implemented in all high schools and colleges/universities. Career days should be encouraged to highlight careers or professions from the Orange Economy. There should be national awards for those who have made a positive impact on the society through the creative industry. There should be accelerator programmes that will enable the participants of the Orange Economy to develop business plans and ultimately the framework for successful businesses that will add to economic development and growth. They can also provide more support for the participants of the Orange Economy by offering training and development programmes in the creative industry. By doing these programmes, the government will help to spark creative entrepreneurship and ultimately create more jobs and reduce the unemployment rate in Jamaica.

Do you believe that development of the Orange Economy will contribute to economic growth?

Yes, I do believe that the development of the Orange Economy will contribute to economic growth. When there is training and development being offered in the Orange Economy, there will be a shift in the mindset of the participants and this will result in people investing more in the creative industry. There will be more creative entrepreneurs, more jobs will be created and more money will be circulated which will ultimately add to economic growth.

How are creative entrepreneurs being financed?

Creative entrepreneurs have to find creative and innovative ways to be financed as there is no fund readily available; in addition to that, the banks have been skeptical about financing the creative industry. That is changing and will change more for the benefit of the creative industry in the future. The banks are slowly seeing the value in the goods and services provided by creative entrepreneurs. Some creative entrepreneurs borrow money from family members and friends to finance their business or business idea. Some creatives use their credit card if they have one or take out personal loans if they are employed. Some ask for donations or sponsorships from corporate entities. Some put on concerts, buy into plays, do cake sales, use their raw talents for a stipend or fee, for example: singing/doing poetry at a wedding, emceeing an event or teaching a dance class. Others seek funding from the government through grant funding or from angel investors. Essentially, most creative entrepreneurs are self financed initially, especially in Jamaica. When family members, friends, established businesses and financial institutions realize that these creative entrepreneurs are serious about their business, they develop an interest in helping to finance through equity or debt financing.

Erika Heslop Martin is the First Vice President of the young Entrepreneurs Association of Jamaica (YEA). She is a Creative Entrepreneur/Author/Editor/Proofreader/Poet/Voice over talent/ Motivational Speaker and Instructor.