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  • Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) funding support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has totalled approximately $4 billion of investments since the entity embarked on a programme of interventions in 2014 to strengthen MSMEs.
  • Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, says the wide-ranging provisions have been initiated with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank support.
  • He was speaking at the recent signing of the US$50-million Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme by the Government and the IDB, at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in Kingston.

Development Bank of Jamaica (DBJ) funding support for micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has totalled approximately $4 billion of investments since the entity embarked on a programme of interventions in 2014 to strengthen MSMEs.

Managing Director, Milverton Reynolds, says the wide-ranging provisions have been initiated with Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and World Bank support.

He was speaking at the recent signing of the US$50-million Boosting Innovation, Growth and Entrepreneurship Ecosystems (BIGEE) Programme by the Government and the IDB, at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, in Kingston.

Mr. Reynolds said in recognition of MSMEs’ pivotal role in spurring economic growth, the DBJ has implemented several programmes and projects that support every level of the Jamaican entrepreneur, from the micro level through to large businesses.

He indicated that these include the IDB-supported Jamaica Venture Capital Programme (JVCP), “through which we are expanding the avenues of financing beyond the traditional debt loans from commercial banks”.

The Managing Director pointed out that the programme has been key in creating a private equity and venture capital ecosystem that allows high potential entrepreneurs to gain access to equity investors. These include angel investors, venture capital funds, and private equity funds.

Mr. Reynolds said the JVCP has seen the DBJ introducing new products to the market. These include MSME capacity development through investor-ready workshops, the Innovation Grant from New Ideas to Entrepreneurship (IGNITE) programme, the Voucher for Technical Assistance programme, in addition to MSME equity investments through angel investors and various private equity investors and firms.

He pointed out that under the JVCP, the DBJ has invested some $1 billion, targeting MSME strengthening, to support approximately 3,000 businesses.

The interventions included grants; technical assistance for activities such as business and marketing plans, and financial statements; and mentorship.

“We have [also] invested some $3 billion in anchor funds to private equity funds, which have raised some US$356 million from both local and international investors,” Mr. Reynolds pointed out, while noting that the equivalent of J$9 billion has been invested in local projects.

He said additional support has also come from the World Bank via the Access to Finance Project, which facilitates MSMEs facing fewer hurdles in accessing financing.

This, the Managing Director explained, by enhancing the DBJ’s credit guarantee programme, “so that businesses with limited collateral can get access to financing and introducing an MSME fund to allow more businesses to get greater access to private equity”.

“There is no question that the landscape and potential for businesses to get the necessary technical support and access to financing has changed dramatically in the last decade and a half, largely by the work being carried out by the DBJ and our partners, such as the IDB,” he added.

The Managing Director further contended that “all of this work has demonstrated the Government’s commitment and support for increasing private-sector growth, particularly among MSMEs, and to do so in an inclusive manner”.

Against this background, Mr. Reynolds said the BIGEE Programme, to be executed by the DBJ, is a welcome introduction and “an additional route for innovation, entrepreneurship and technical and financial support to businesses”.

The project will target financial and technical assistance support for MSMEs, scalable and new business start-ups with high growth potential, as also entrepreneurs with sustainable business ideas.

Other target beneficiaries include: public and private institutions, such as incubators, business support accelerators, and academia conforming to the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The project will be executed under two five-year US$25-million Conditional Credit Line for Investment Projects (CCLIP) funding facilities.

Mr. Reynolds said the DBJ welcomes the BIGEE programme “as a continuation of much of the work that we have been providing for MSMEs, ever since we made the strategic decision to focus on MSMEs”.

For her part, General Manager for the IDB’s Caribbean Group Country Department, Therese Turner Jones, described the DBJ as “an excellent partner” to work with on the project.

“There has been absolutely no idea that we have put in front of them that they have shirked away from,” she noted.

Mrs. Turner Jones commended the DBJ for being “an institution that has credibility… the talent and the motivation to do very innovative things in Jamaica”.

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