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More than 31,000 disbursements amounting to $1.5 billion have been made to micro, small and medium-sized enterprise (MSME) stakeholders, under the Government of Jamaica/Government of the Netherlands MicroFIN/JA Programme, over the last 10 years, State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Michael Stern, has disclosed.
The MicroFIN/JA Programme, which falls under the Ministry’s purview, focuses on extending credit to Jamaica’s micro enterprise sector. The programme is currently being executed through the management firm, Development Options Limited.
Speaking at a recent meeting of Board members of participating MicroFIN/JA stakeholder agencies at the Courtleigh Hotel, New Kingston, Mr. Stern lauded the efforts of Development Options and their partners in facilitating financing to MSMEs, through MicroFIN/JA, in light of what he said was the lack of this provision to the sector.
He pointed out that this was “constraining our economy,” and added that the promotion of MSMEs is at the “heart” of the Government’s economic policy framework.
Mr. Stern informed that trading, services, agriculture and manufacturing account for the largest disbursements made between 2000 and 2009. He noted that trading accounted for 58 per cent or 19,255 of the 30,921 loan disbursements, amounting to approximately $896.1 million.
Services, he said, accounted for another 24 per cent or 8,003 of the total disbursements. This equates to some $370.8 million. Agriculture was next with 13 per cent or 4,392 of total disbursements, amounting to approximately $200.8 million, while manufacturing was fourth with 1,583 disbursements or five per cent, totalling $77.25 million.
The State Minister advised that women accounted for the lion’s share of disbursements, 71 per cent, in three of the four areas, namely trading, manufacturing and services.
In terms of parish profiles, Mr. Stern said Kingston and St. Andrew, and St. Catherine, accounted for the largest disbursements. Kingston and St. Andrew led the way with 8,694 or 28 per cent; St. Catherine accounted for 5,818 or 19 per cent;
St. James was next with 2,935 or nine per cent; St. Ann 2,770 or just under nine per cent; Manchester, 2,452 or eight per cent; and St. Thomas, 2,291 or seven per cent.
“You (MicroFin stakeholders) are playing a role in terms of making sure that you meet that smaller borrower. The economic revitalisation of this country will be harder if we don’t find ways and means to get money quicker and easier to them. It’s going to take a longer time in the end, in our efforts to raise the productivity level and to build sustainability, if we don’t. We must find innovative ways of financing micro, small and medium-sized enterprise entrepreneurs,” the State Minister said.
He pointed out that as the country prepares for the future, with significant focus on funding access to MSMEs, it should be noted that many entrepreneurs were still reluctant to source this facility where it was available, “due to general economic uncertainties and historical patterns in this economy.”
“Therefore, we have to encourage them to seek capital. We have to encourage them and let them feel like they can have confidence in the institutions that are providing financial support. It’s a mighty task, but it’s one that we have to take on,” Mr. Stern said.