The total number of financial institutions operating downtown Kingston has increased, with Friday’s (March 23) official opening of Access Financial Services Limited’s branch at 50 Duke Street.
The office, which has been offering services since February, is the 14th branch of the micro finance institution established in 2000.
Addressing the brief opening ceremony, State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, said the opening of the downtown branch is “yet another important milestone” for Access Financial Services and the micro, small and medium enterprise sector.
She commended the entity on recording a 39 per cent increase in loan disbursements between 2010 and 2011, which she noted, saw allocations moving from $475.1 million to $660.7 million. This increase, she informed, was attributed to the introduction of new products and the revamping of existing ones.
She said there was “significant potential market,” for businesses such as Access in downtown Kingston and other urban centres.
“We need, now, to build on this dynamism and resourcefulness as we seek to develop new growth centres geared toward creating jobs and value for Jamaicans. Our mutual objective is to expand access to finance, create jobs, and build the economy. Working together and structuring projects that benefit more Jamaicans, is certainly a great way to get there,” Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said.
Chief Executive Officer of Access Financial Services, Marcus James, said that with the opening of the latest branch, the entity has become Jamaica’s leading provider of micro finance loans.
He said the firm has been doing business with clients in downtown Kingston since its inception, and the decision to open the Duke Street office was not only to assist in the restoration of downtown, but also to “increase the level of convenience with which our customers in the area are able to transact business with us."
He noted that already, there has been significant support from the downtown community, with more than $5 million in loans disbursed.
“Since downtown has the largest concentration of micro-businesses in Jamaica, we are confident that our new branch will provide us with new customers and contribute to the growth of our loan portfolio,” Mr. James stated.
The Duke Street branch offers Access’ full suite of products and services and these include: auto loans, personal loans, through their Payroll Express product, and micro business loans, through the entity’s newly established partner loan product.
As part of the entity’s corporate social responsibility, Mr. James said support will be extended to the surrounding communities. He said focus is being placed on assisting the St. Paul’s Basic School, which caters to 92 children three to six years old, with some coming from as far as St. Mary and St. Thomas.
He informed that the 32-year old school building, situated at 5 Lockett Avenue, was condemned in January, forcing the administration to relocate to the adjacent St. Paul’s United Church hall.
“We have committed to provide assistance in their rehabilitation process and help with the establishment of a new school building. We are excited about the prospects that our new access branch has to offer the community and are thrilled to be operating in the downtown area,” Mr. James declared.
By Douglas McIntosh, JIS Reporter