JIS News

The 6th annual Caribbean Microfinance Network (CMN) a three-day roundtable conference, ended yesterday (May 17), with delegates reaching consensus on the importance of microfinance lending in the Caribbean.
The shared vision of the CMN: that of extending the reach of microfinance in the Caribbean through the exchange of ideas, discussions of needs and identification of innovative opportunities, was the focal point as delegates from more than eight Caribbean countries participated in the event.
Convened at the Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort in Montego Bay from May 15-17, the conference was held under the theme: ‘Managing for sustainability, viability and growth to serve the majority’.
In his address at the closing ceremony, Vice Chairman of Jamaica National (JN) Small Business Loans Limited, Earl Jarrett, said that the topical areas discussed during the three-day conference were enriching and indicative of the in-depth thought and clear understanding of the issues affecting the microfinance sector.
“This, I believe, is critical if we are to develop feasible programmes that will have the desired meaningful impact on the micro sectors we serve in our various countries … the recurring theme of partnerships (cannot be overemphasized) because if all the sectors involved in making capital available to the majority are to remain competitive and viable, then partnerships are the way of the future,” Mr. Jarrett stressed. Exploring ways of meaningfully growing the micro-enterprise sector in the country, he said is necessary to assess its economic impact and to ensure that governmental support for the sector remained strong.
He cited the Jamaica Business Development Centre (JBDC) and the Ministry of Industry, Technology, Energy and Commerce which were integral to the development of the sector in Jamaica.
“In Jamaica the JBDC was earmarked to provide comprehensive technical support and loan guarantees to enable small and medium-sized enterprises to maximize their potential and some 80 companies stand to benefit from its loan guarantee programme. This is the kind of success and attendant success that should be the benchmark by which our microfinance entities ought to be measured,” Mr. Jarrett said.
“We have seen where the microfinance sector is now recognized as the engine of growth for countries and regions. The important point is that in the early phases, microfinance entities do require public sector support and the CMN should continue to work with the regional governments and multi-lateral agencies to provide the support for the expansion of micro financing in the region,” Mr. Jarrett told the closing session. The conference, which was organized by the Jamaica National Building Society’s Small Business Loans Limited, with funding assistance from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), also saw some 36 microfinance organizations from 11 countries represented.

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