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Some 20,146 loans valued $670.5 million, were made to the micro and small business sectors during the 2004/2005 financial year, leading to the creation of some 12,675 new jobs.
Industry and Tourism Minister Aloun Ndombet Assamba, who made the announcement yesterday (July 27), said the figure represented a 27.6 percent increase over the number of loans in the previous year and a jump in value of more than 40 per cent.
Mrs. Ndombet Assamba, who was speaking at the launch of the 2005 International Year of Micro Credit and the National Co-ordinating Committee at the Jamaica Conference Centre downtown Kingston, said the level of support to the sector, also underscored the government’s commitment to providing full support to facilitate the development of the country’s micro and small business sectors.
She noted that the government would be working to meet its obligations to the sector, by establishing an appropriate policy framework for production and investment in the small business development and encouraging the private sector and in particular the financial community, to adopt innovative approaches and implement new financial programmes.
She informed that last year, the sector benefited from more than $1 billion in funding channeled through approved financial institutions such as the Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA), Pan Caribbean Financial Services, Development Options Limited and the Self Start Fund.
This in comparison to disbursement of $410.8 million in funds by wholesale agencies to small and medium enterprises in 2000.
Minister Assamba said that Jamaica could not be an exception in the development of its small and micro business sector, which had been proven in other countries to be a reliable growth engine and a key vehicle for broadening the base of the economy. She noted that in 2004, the sector accounted for 33 per cent of employment.
The Industry and Tourism Minister pointed out that the efficiency and capability of micro and small businesses in Jamaica and other developing countries, were being undermined by relatively low levels of technical and managerial skills, difficulty in access to finances, use of technologies, access to market information and standards. She said the government was aware of the constraints and would be designing strategies and initiatives to address them.
She further pointed out that the government had been taking a lead role in facilitating measurable increases in activity among micro and small enterprises.
She noted however that, “even with strong donor support, government could never adequately answer the need for the financial tools, which can enhance the capability of our small entrepreneurs to build assets, increase income and mitigate their particular vulnerability to economic crises”.
Mrs. Assamba said it was recognised, that partnership with the private sector was perhaps the most effective way to deliver improved and sustained services and a key objective of the International Year of Micro-Credit was the promotion, support and creation of innovative and strategic partnerships between government and the private sector to build and expand the outreach and success of micro-credit and microfinance.
Micro and small businesses account for 90 per cent of all industries globally and some 50 per cent of gross domestic product globally.