Activities in the country’s micro enterprise sector have been boosted by the establishment of the Jamaica Association of Micro Financing (JAMFIN).
The organisation, which comprises several micro financing entities, seeks to advance the welfare of its members through partnerships forged with major private and public sector stakeholders.
Its founding members include: First Union Financial Company Limited; Kris An Charles Investment Limited; ISP Finance Services Limited; Niche Financing Limited; and Allegro Investment Limited.
JAMFIN has been endorsed by State Minister for Industry, Investment and Commerce, Hon. Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, who indicated her support while speaking at the organisation’s launch at the Medallion Hall Hotel, St. Andrew, on Wednesday, March 20.
The State Minister described the initiative as “a significant step forward” for the sector, while commending the founding members on their vision.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said the Government acknowledges the contribution of small and micro enterprises in Jamaica’s economic growth, particularly through job creation. As such, she saidstrategies are constantly being implemented to facilitate the sector’s development.
“It is increasingly recognised that these enterprises form an essential element in the promotion of broad-based inclusive growth and improvement, in the well-being of the poor by providing significant income and encouraging indigenous investment,” she pointed out.
As such, Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams advised that the government’s policy strategies for the sector seek to address the challenges encountered by stakeholders in accessing funding from financial institutions, and the limited alternatives available.
These, she outlined, include providing loans at subsidised interest rates to institutions willing to lend to MSMEs; sourcing lines of credit at concessionary rates for on-lending to MSMEs; and creating an institutional and regulatory environment to facilitate the introduction of innovative products and services, such as mobile, by financial service providers.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams said the Government is also promoting equity financing as a viable option for MSMEs. These, she said, includethe junior stock market and venture capital.
Additionally, the State Minister said work has been advanced in the formulation of the proposed Secured Transactions Act, which seeks to provide the legal framework to formally recognise and accept non-traditional forms of collateral such as inventory, accounts receivables and intellectual property.
She also advised that business development support will also be provided to stakeholders through training provided by the HEART/National Training Agency, which will lead the process, with support from other key entities.
Mrs. Ffolkes-Abrahams was quick to point out, however, that the sector currently benefit, to some extent, from financing provided through wholesale lenders such as the Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ); Micro Investment Development Agency (MIDA); the National Insurance Fund (NIF); and Pan Caribbean Financial Services Limited.
By Alecia Smith-Edwards, JIS Reporter